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Piracy relief for marines

New Delhi, Feb. 22: The Centre has decided to drop charges under an anti-piracy law against two Italian marines accused of shooting dead a couple of Indian fishermen in 2012, lifting the possibility of the death penalty they would have otherwise attracted.

As part of this move, attorney-general G.E. Vahanvati is expected to seek the Supreme Court’s intervention for transferring the probe from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to the CBI.

Under the NIA Act, 2008, the agency can probe and prosecute only scheduled offences such as those that fall under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act or terrorism-related attacks.

Once the charges under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA) are dropped, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone can be tried only under the penal code’s Section 302 (murder).

Under this section, courts can jail offenders for life. Death is handed only in the “rarest of rare cases”. Under the SUA, the punishment is death.