UN Tribunal Asks India, Italy to Put Off Marines' Trial

Published: 25th August 2015 03:34 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th August 2015 03:34 AM   |  A+A-

NEW DELHI: The International Tribunal for Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on Monday refused to give instructions to India to let the two Italian marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen, stay in Italy and asked both the countries to suspend all court proceedings.

New Delhi is rather pleased by the verdict of the Hamburg-based ITLOS, while Rome is disappointed that its primary aim of requesting for provisional measures, which is to get the marines back, has been thwarted.

“Italy and India shall both suspend all court proceedings and refrain from initiating new ones which might aggravate or extend the dispute submitted to the Annex VII arbitral tribunal or might jeopardise or prejudice the carrying out of any decision which the arbitral tribunal may render,” the Tribunal said in its 27-page order, read out by ITLOS president Vladimir Golitsyn from Russia. Also, the court instructs Italy and India to submit their initial report by September 24.

On February 15, 2012, two Indian fishermen were allegedly killed by Italian marines Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, off the Kerala coast. The latter, who were posted on the merchant ship Enrica Lexie, had claimed that they mistook the fishing boat St Anthony’s to be that of pirates.

After several legal and diplomatic twists and turns, NIA slapped charges under sections 302 (Murder), 307 (Attempt to murder), 427 (mischief) along with section 34 (Common intent) of IPC. However, the trial by a special court was yet to begin with Supreme Court at its last hearing last month staying proceedings till February after Italy approached the international tribunal.

Latorre’s medical leave has been extended till January, while Girone is still in India, relatively free but under bail conditions.

Meanwhile, Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni said that Rome ‘remained committed to the goal of guaranteeing the freedom of the two marines.’ Some media reports had said that Italy may approach ICJ, but it is not clear if this will be a violation of the Tribunal’s order which asks both sides to not initiate any new proceedings.

The Italian foreign minister added the verdict was ‘useful’, as it ‘will be international arbitration, as Italy had requested, that will handle this case.’ The Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Vikas Swarup said,”It is clear that the Tribunal did not consider the two provisional measures sought by Italy to be appropriate”.

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