In a major reprieve for the two Italian marines facing trial for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012, the Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that the duo would not be tried under the anti-piracy law (SUA).
This effectively means that the Italian marines would not face death penalty if convicted of killing the two Indian fishermen.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, agreed to examine the Italian government’s plea challenging jurisdiction of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the marines’ case.
During the last hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Italian government and the marines, had submitted that the Centre has not been able to move in the case despite the apex court’s order and pleaded that his client be allowed to go back to their country till Centre takes a decision.
The bench had said that it will take up the case on February 24 and will then hear the submission.
The bench was hearing a petition filed by Italian government challenging invoking of anti-terrorism law SUA, saying it is against the order of the apex court which allowed proceedings only under the Maritime Zone Act, IPC, CrPC and UNCLOS.
The joint petition, filed by Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini along with Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, had also sought direction to the Centre and NIA to expedite the proceedings in the case or discharge the marines.
The petition said invoking the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against safety of Maritime Navigation And Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (SUA) “would tantamount to the Republic of Italy being termed a terrorist state and acts of its organs, which were in repression of piracy, as being deemed as acts of terrorism, which is wholly untenable and unacceptable in the facts and circumstances of this case and in keeping with the comity of nations and international cooperation”.
The case pertains to the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by Latorre and Girone on board ‘Enrica Lexie’ off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.
The two officers contended that they had apprehended a piracy attack. The marines were arrested on February 19, 2012.