Italian marines’ case heading for international arbitration

  • Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 10, 2015 23:38 IST

The long pending Italian marines’ case seems to be heading towards international arbitration with the government of India realising it doesn’t have much of an option but to follow suit once one party in dispute seeks arbitration, multiple sources associated with official deliberations told HT.

“Italy has formally sought international arbitration in the Italian marines’ case under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos). India is also a signatory to the convention and under article 287 of the Unclos (which relates to settlement of disputes mechanism under the convention) methods of dispute resolution have been provided. The initial legal assessment is that if a party to a dispute seeks arbitration, the other party will have to agree to it,” said a home ministry official requesting anonymity.

The two Italian marines — Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre — onboard MT Enrica Lexie — allegedly opened fire on an Indian fishing boat killing two fishermen off the coast of Kerala on February 15, 2012.

The matter was initially probed by the Kerala police but later, the Surpeme Court directed the government to get case investigated from a central agency and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) was entrusted with the probe. The agency has completed the probe but since the matter is pending in the Supreme Court, it is yet to file formal charges against the two accused.

Legal opinion has been sought on the issue and on Sunday there is going to be another meeting of representatives of ministries of home, external affairs and law to formalise the stand before the Supreme Court, added the official.

One of accused — Massimiliano Latorre — had returned home last year after suffering a brain stroke. He is supposed to return by July 15 but Italy moved the SC for allowing him stay at home as it has moved for arbitration. The case is likely to come up for hearing next week.

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