Make genuine attempt to resolve Italian marines issue: SC to government

New Delhi, Jan 20: The Supreme Court on Monday told the government that its attempts to find a solution to the issue of the Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen, suspecting them of being pirates, should be genuine.

“If you are trying to find a solution, we have no objection. But it should be a bonafide attempt to resolve the problem,” the apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice J. Chelameswar said, as Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told the court that the government was attempting to find a solution to the problem.

“We are trying to find a solution. Some witnesses who had given an undertaking that they will appear (in court) did not come,” the attorney general told the court.

Earlier, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi told the court that one year had passed since the apex court transferred the Italian marines matter to the centre, holding that Kerala, off the coast of which the crime occurred, had no jurisdiction to try the marines. However, no charge-sheet had yet been filed.

Rohtagi told the court that the two Italian marines, Chief Master Sergeant Massimilano Latorre and Sergeant Salvatore Girone, have been in India awaiting trial for nearly two years.

The apex court bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir (since retired) and Justice J. Chelameswar on Jan 18, 2013, had ruled that the Kerala government has no independent jurisdiction to try the two Italian marines for shooting down two Indian fishermen off Kerala on Feb 15, 2012.

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

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

The Italian government, the judgment had said, would be free to raise the question of its jurisdiction to conduct the trial of these two marines in Italy.

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

Two marines on board the Italian cargo vessel Enrica Lexie had shot dead two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki, 25, from Tamil Nadu, and Gelestine, 45, from Kerala, on Feb 15 2012, suspecting that they were pirates.



Original Article