Setback for Italy and India as UN tribunal suspends trial of two marines

Hamburg, Aug.24 : Even as India on Monday asked a UN Tribunal to reject Italy’s plea for the handing over of two Italian Marines who have been accused of killing fishermen in Kerala into its custody, the tribunal ordered a suspension of the ongoing trial/

In its ruling, the tribuinal asked both India and Italy to submit a report to it by September 24, and added that there was still a question over which country had jurisdiction over the case that has been going on for more than three years.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, the Italian marines accused of killing unarmed Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012

India had earlier asked the UN tribunal to reject Italy’s plea, asserting that it has full jurisdiction as the incident took place in its exclusive economic zone.

A UN tribunal delivered its ruling today on Italy’s plea that two of its marines accused of killing Indian fishermen in 2012 should be handed over by India and tried in their own country.

Italy has based its appeal on a UN law that grants jurisdiction in such cases to the country that owns the ship involved in any incident at sea. The country has asked the International Tribunal on Law of the Sea to restrict India from taking action against its marines.

Latorre and Girone were on board the oil tanker “Enrica Lexie”, and are accused of killing two unarmed Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.

Italy maintains that the shooting took place in international waters and that the fishermen were mistaken for pirates.

Sergeant Girone is out on bail in India and sergeant Latorre has been given permission by the Supreme Court to stay in Italy for another six months for medical treatment.

India’s representative told the tribunal that the marines “used automatic weapons without warning and shot in head and stomach of the two fishermen…This case is not covered by Article 97 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea but rather a double murder at sea.”

The Italian government’s version was short, straightforward and misleading, India said in the tribunal hearing at Hamburg.

India has also challenged Italy’s contention that it has kept Sergeant Girone as a “hostage”. “It is surprising that Italy is insensitive to the interests and plight of the victims of crime and is adopting a discriminatory attitude,” India said in its submission. (ANI)