New Delhi: Italian Government Wednesday approached the Supreme Court challenging invocation of anti-terrorism law against its two marines, saying it “would tantamount to the Republic of Italy being termed a terrorist state”.¬†
The petition, which will be taken up by the Supreme Court on January 20, also sought direction to the Centre and NIA to expedite the proceedings in the case or discharge the marines, who are accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012, on the ground of the delay in trial.
The petition also challenged invoking of anti-terrorism law SUA (Suppression of Unlawful Acts against safety of Maritime Navigation And Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf) Act saying it is against the order of the apex court which allowed proceedings only under the Maritime Zone Act, IPC, CrPC and UNCLOS.
“Invoking the anti-terrorism SUA Act would tantamount to the Republic of Italy being termed a terrorist state and acts of its organs, which were in repression of piracy, as being deemed as acts of terrorism, which is wholly untenable and unacceptable in the facts and circumstances of this case and in keeping with the comity of nations and international cooperation,” the petition said.
The joint petition, filed by Ambassador of Italy Daniele Mancini along with the Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, submitted that the draft protocol of 2005 to the SUA convention expressly excludes the applicability of the convention to activities undertaken by the military forces of a State in the exercise of their official duties.
“The purported attempt by the Centre to unilaterally invoke the provisions of SUA Act is contrary to and in wilful disregard of the directions of this court,” the petition said, adding that they came to know about invoking SUA on the basis of application filed by NIA in trial court.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the petitioners, contended that one year has passed since the apex court had directed an expeditious hearing in the case but the Centre has failed to implement the order and charge sheet has so far not been filed in the case.
“The petitioners have been detained in India for the last two years without any criminal case against them being started and the Centre has in fact failed to present any Final Report against them for almost one year despite the direction of the apex court to try and dispose of the case on a fast track basis,” the petition said adding that the accused be allowed to return to Italy till the proceedings begin.
The petitioner contended that the action on the part of the Centre to invoke an anti-terrorism law is wholly “contrary to the unequivocal and specific directions of the judgement of this court”.
“The invocation of the provisions of the anti-terrorism law to the present case had been consciously and unambiguously given up and recorded both in Kerala proceedings and proceedings before this court which had in its explicit directions contained in its judgement of January 18, 2013, directed the Union of India to set up a Special Court to try the case of the petitioners under the four specified laws only,” the petition said.
The Supreme Court, on January 18 last year, had directed that the Central Agency to probe the case against the marines and directed the Centre to set up a special court to conduct the trial on a day-to-day basis after the charge sheet is filed.
The case pertains to the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by Latorre and Girone on board ‘Enrica Lexie’.
Fearing a pirate attack, the two officers had allegedly fired at the fishermen’s vessel off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012, killing two of them. The marines were arrested on February 19, 2012.