Italy on Wednesday termed as “stray” media reports quoting an Italian senator that one of its two marines, accused of murdering Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast four years ago, will not return to India to face trial after the Supreme Court’s inquiry.
“These are stray reports,” senior advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for the Italian ambassador to India, told a bench headed by Justice AR Dave, which extended the stay of marine Massimiliano Latorre in Italy till April 30. The bench wanted to know from Sorabjee if the reports were true.
Sorabjee clarified that the reported statement was an individual’s personal opinion and that the senator was not even a part of the Italian government. He assured the bench that Italy did not intend to defy any SC direction.
The senior counsel then requested the bench to extend Lattore’s stay in Italy since the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) was about to begin proceedings on Italy’s claim that it had the jurisdiction to proceed against the marines and not the Indian government. Sorabjee said ITLOs would take at least two years to adjudicate the dispute.
At this the bench asked additional solicitor general Pinky Anand, representing the Union Government, to come back and apprise it as to how much time ITLOS would take. Anand will get back to the court with instructions on April 13.
In the wake of ITLOS proceedings, the apex court on August 26 last year suspended all court proceedings in India. While allowing the joint request of India and Italy, it said the proceedings shall remain in abeyance until ITLOS takes a final call.
Latorre, who suffered a brain stroke on August 31, 2014, was allowed by the SC on September 12, 2014, to go to Italy for four months; he has been granted extensions after that.