Rome/Berlin: Italy today said it will battle hard to defend the two Italian marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012, when their case comes up for hearing before a Germany-based international tribunal from August 10.
Italian President Sergio Mattarella vowed that Italy will battle hard to defend the duo.
“Italy is a country that is ready to protect its citizens and it intends to keep battling with determination (for the two marines),” he was quoted as saying by the Italian news agency ANSA.
The Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) said its president Judge Vladimir Golitsyn would on August 10 open a public hearing expected to last two days.
India will contest the Italian government’s decision to take the matter of the two marines to the ITLOS. A legal team, headed by a law officer, will leave for Germany to represent India’s case at the hearings in Hamburg.
“I confirm the government’s commitment to defend the arguments of marines Massimiliano Latore and Salvatore Girone at the international bodies we have decided to turn to,” Mr Gentiloni told a conference of envoys in Rome.
The ITLOS is an independent judicial body established by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to adjudicate disputes arising out of the interpretation and application of the Convention.
The Tribunal is composed of 21 independent members, elected from among persons enjoying the highest reputation for fairness and integrity and of recognised competence in the field of the law of the sea.
Earlier, during hearing in India’s Supreme Court on July 13, Italy had made a plea before the court saying it has invoked international arbitration challenging India’s jurisdiction to try two of its marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen three years ago.
It is presumed that Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P L Narasimha, who is leading the case in the Supreme Court in Rome, will represent the Indian team at the ITLOS.
The marines, who were on board ship ‘Enrica Lexie’, are accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012, under the misconception that they were pirates.