Fishermen killing: Supreme Court to hear plea of two Italian marines today

Edited by Samira Shaikh (with IANS inputs)

The Supreme Court will today hear the plea by two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen on the delay in their trial and have sought dropping of charges.

The trial by a special court was otherwise to conclude in one year.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi had argued that that the trial was directed to be concluded within one year, after being held on a day-to-day basis. However, he added that so far even the charge-sheet had not been filed in the case, and both the marines, Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, are in India awaiting trial.

On January 18, 2013, the Supreme Court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir (since retired) and Justice J. Chelameswar had ruled that the Kerala government has no independent jurisdiction to try two Italian marines.

It had said that it was only the union of India that had the jurisdiction to hold the trial of the two marines.

The court had said the central government, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, would set up a special court to hold the trial.

The Italian government, the judgment had said, would be free to raise the issue of whether it had the jurisdiction to conduct the trial of these two Italian marines in their country.

Upon raising this issue of jurisdiction, the special court would decide the question whether the government of India or the Italian government has the jurisdiction to conduct the trial of the two marines under the Maritime Law.

The two Italian marines, Chief Master Sergeant Massimilano Latorre and Sergeant Salvatore Girone, on board the Italian cargo vessel Enrica Lexie had shot dead two Indian fishermen on February 15 2012, suspecting them to be pirates.

The marines said they had fired in the direction of the vessel, which they suspected had pirates on board. In reality, it was a fishing vessel. Two fishermen, Ajesh Binki and Gelastine, were killed.