The Italian government has moved the Supreme Court (SC), requesting that its marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen be released.
Citing the delay in proceedings, the Italian government has argued that no chargesheet has been submitted in the case that dates back to 2012. The SC will hear the plea on Monday.
Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, two Italian marines onboard the MT Enrica Lexie, are accused of killing fishermen Ajesh Binki and Jelestine off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012. Their arrest had triggered a diplomatic standoff between India and Italy.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) conducted a probe into the case, concluding the marines had not issued any warning on loudspeaker or fired warning shots before shooting at the two fishermen.
The Supreme Court had shifted the case to Delhi, saying the Kerala Police have no jurisdiction over it and backed the government’s decision to hand over the case to NIA.
Sources in the NIA have also said sleuths did not get any help from the other four marines - Voglino Renato, Andronico Massimo, Fontano Antonio and Conte Alessandro – who were witnesses and onboard the vessel to deal with pirates.
The NIA has now sought sanction from the home ministry to prosecute the accused under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (SUA).
Sources said the ministry was in a fix over the NIA move as under the SUA, if anyone causes death, he or she will be awarded with death penalty. India, however, has already assured Italy that the offence would not warrant death under established jurisprudence.
Faced with the peculiar situation, the ministry is examining various provisions of law, but is yet to take a decision.
Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde recently chaired a high-level meeting to discuss NIA’s request seeking sanction to prosecute the two marines, who are now staying in the Italian embassy in New Delhi and awaiting trial.