This Article is From Aug 24, 2015

UN Tribunal Asks India to Suspend Trial of Italian Marines Accused of Killing Fishermen

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, the Italian marines accused of killing unarmed Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012

Hamburg: A UN tribunal today asked India to suspend the trial of the two Italian marines accused of killing Indian fishermen in 2012, and asked both countries to report to it on the case on September 24.

Responding to Italy's appeal, the International Tribunal on Law of the Sea asserted its jurisdiction in the case and said there would be no more legal proceedings "that could aggravate the case."

The tribunal did not respond to Italy's request that its marines should be freed from all restrictions.

Italy has based its appeal on a UN law that grants jurisdiction to the country that owns the ship involved in any incident in international waters.

The marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, were on board the oil tanker "Enrica Lexie" when they shot dead two unarmed Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012. Italy maintains that the shooting took place in international waters and that the fishermen were mistaken for pirates. It also claims that the marines have sovereign immunity as part of the Italian navy.

Sergeant Girone is out on bail in India and sergeant Latorre was last month given permission by the Supreme Court to stay in Italy for another six months for medical treatment.

India has argued before the tribunal that it has the right to try the marines as the incident took place in its exclusive economic zone and is not a "maritime incident" but "double murder at sea."

India has strongly objected to Italy's contention that Sergeant Girone has been kept as a "hostage". "It is surprising that Italy is insensitive to the interests and plight of the victims of crime and is adopting a discriminatory attitude," India told the tribunal.

The fallout from the arrest of the two marines - an issue entwined with national sentiment in Italy - has damaged wider relations, contributing to the collapse of a European Union-India summit planned during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to France and Germany in April.