The Telegraph
Monday , March 31 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Court sets July 31 date for hearing Italian marines’ case

New Delhi, Mar 31 (PTI): A special court here has fixed July 31 for hearing the case of two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012, after it was informed that the Supreme Court has ordered that the proceedings be deferred.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the counsel appearing for marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone informed the court that the apex court had said on March 28 that the proceedings before the special court be kept in abeyance.

The apex court has sought response from the Centre on the petition filed by the two marines challenging the jurisdiction of NIA to prosecute and probe the case.

The Italian marines had moved the apex court more than a month after the Indian government had decided to withdraw their prosecution under a stringent law that attracts death penalty as maximum punishment.

During the hearing, advocate Viplav Sharma, appearing for the marines, told the court that the apex court has not fixed any next date for hearing the matter pending before it and the trial court may adjourn the matter “sine die”.

NIA prosecutor Ahmed Khan, however, told the court that instead of adjourning the matter “sine die”, the case should be listed after three months.

Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar fixed the matter for July 31. The special court was scheduled to hear arguments on NIA's plea to take “appropriate steps” to secure custody of two Italian marines.

NIA had earlier told the court that they were “ready” with the charge sheet in the case pertaining to the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by Latorre and Girone on board 'Enrica Lexie'.

In their fresh plea filed before the Supreme Court, the marines had contended that the probe into the alleged killing of fishermen by NIA was illegal.

Fearing a pirate attack, the two marines had allegedly fired at the fishermen's vessel off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012, killing two of them. The marines were arrested four days later.

The Supreme Court, on January 18 last year, had held that the marines should be tried by the Centre and had turned down the plea of the Italian government that Indian courts had no jurisdiction in the case.

The apex court had allowed NIA to probe the case against the marines and asked the special court to conduct the trial on a day-to-day basis after the charge sheet is filed.