Italy wants speedy trials for their marines

   Feb 3, 1:59 pm

New Delhi, Feb.3 (ANI): Special envoy of the Italian government, Staffan De Mistura on Monday said that his government was hoping for speedy resolution of the diplomatic row involving two of its marines charged with the murder of Indian fishermen, an incident that has soured relations between Delhi and Rome.

Mistura, who arrived in the capital on Sunday for the hearing said that Italy was determined for an early resolution of the case that threatened to jeopardise the otherwise excellent relations between Italy and India.

"Two years have gone without even a chargesheet. So, the Italian government has requested its lawyer to the Supreme Court to explain that now it's time to take a decision. If the decision were to apply SUA (Suppression of Unlawful Acts) it would be an act of equating Italy and the Italian marines to a terrorist state. We are hoping that the Supreme Court will take a decision very soon," said Mistura.

"The Supreme Court very wisely asked the accused in the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to come up with their case by next Monday, not two weeks, not three weeks, not another year and on our side our own lawyer has insisted that on Monday they want to have an answer and at the same time draw a line also," he said.

Mistura said Italy would decide on a counter move after hearing court's view in the case.

"So, the next step is waiting, waiting with determination for seeing what Supreme Court has clearly told National Investigation Agency (NIA) by Monday either you sought out SUA or you won't have any more delay and we will then take our won counter actions depending on that. We are confident that the Supreme Court will look at this case as a very dangerous precedent for international relations and will take the proper decision," Mistura added.

Urging India to end the logjam, Mistura also said that the Supreme Court should make its stand clear by February 10.

The Supreme Court on the other hand asked the government to make its stand clear by February 10th on invoking anti-piracy law against the two Italian marines.

The marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, are awaiting trial on charges of murder. Their lawyers say their clients mistook the fishermen for pirates and fired warning shots into the water. The two marines do not admit killing anyone or aiming directly at the fishing boat.

Prosecutors had alleged that Italian marines serving as security guards on an Italian-flagged oil tanker, the Enrica Lexie, about 20 nautical miles off Kerala in February 2012, shot the two Indian fishermen.

The incident highlighted the loosely-regulated practice of placing private and military armed guards on ships for protection against pirate attacks.

The case navigates uncharted legal waters. Maritime experts say it is the first test of whether military personnel enjoy sovereign immunity aboard commercial vessels, who should authorise the use of lethal force - the ship's captain or the commander of the security team - and how far out to sea a country's laws can be enforced. (ANI)

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