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HindustanTimes Sun,21 Sep 2014

NIA to invoke tough law against Italian marines

Aloke Tikku, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 01, 2013
First Published: 23:14 IST(1/4/2013) | Last Updated: 01:04 IST(2/4/2013)

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) will invoke a tough maritime safety law against the two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast.

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As first reported by HT, the Union home ministry has handed over the controversial case to the NIA after the Supreme Court held that the Kerala Police did not have the jurisdiction to prosecute the two marines — Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone.

The Kerala Police had filed a chargesheet against the marines in May 2012. An NIA official said the agency were studying the relevant documents before registering the case.

Government sources, however, indicated the NIA would have to invoke the maritime safety law — Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act 2002 — that was aimed at coming down harshly at pirates and terrorists.

Comparing its provisions with the now-repealed Prevention of Terrorism Act, a government official said this law too made it almost impossible for the accused to get bail if the prosecution opposed the request.

Also, this law also shifts the burden to prove innocence on the accused if the prosecution was able to build a circumstantial case against them.

Home ministry sources said the NIA would probe the case from the beginning and file the chargesheet in an NIA special court.

The SC had directed to set up a special court but the home ministry is likely to seek permission to try the high-profile case at the designated NIA court.


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