SC to hear Italian marine’s plea for return home

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New Delhi, May 23 (IANS) The Supreme Court will on Thursday hear the Italian government’s plea seeking permission to allow a murder-accused Italian marine, Salvatore Girone, return home till arbitration proceedings at an international tribunal decides the case that has soured ties between the two countries.

Girone, who is presently housed at the Italian embassy premises in Delhi, has sought to ease his bail conditions so that he is allowed to go to his native place till the arbitration tribunal in The Hague decides the case.

Girone and fellow Italian marine Massimiliano Latorre on board oil tanker Enrica Lexie allegedly shot dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast during an anti-piracy mission in February 2012, mistaking them for pirates.

Latorre is already home since 2014 when he suffered a stroke in India. The top court Indian court recently allowed an extension to his stay till September 30.

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On Monday, the bench of Justice Prafulla C. Pant and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud agreed to hear Girone’s plea after Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand supported the request from the Italian government.

The plea comes in the wake of April 29 order of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) asking India and Italy to cooperate in relaxing the bail conditions of Girone so that he could return to his country during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings before it.

The tribunal is holding an international arbitration to decide the question of jurisdiction between India and Italy as to who will try the two Italian marines for the murder of the fishermen during an anti-piracy mission.

The Italian government said in Rome that it has presented the petition to the Supreme Court regarding the tribunal ruling.

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“Italy submitted a request to the court to urgently enforce the decision of The Hague Court of Arbitration of April 29 enabling Girone to quickly return to Italy,” a foreign ministry statement said.

The statement added that the two countries should cooperate on the marine’s return while awaiting the decision of the arbitration proceeding on the dispute.

The case has triggered a diplomatic row between India and Italy even as the two countries last year agreed to move to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and abide by its decisions.

Italy argues that the marines should have immunity as they were servicemen working on a mission and that India does not have jurisdiction as the incident took place outside its territorial waters.

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The Indian government has continuously rejected the Italian foreign ministry’s claims.



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