Court begins hearing in Italian marines’ case

An international arbitration court on Monday began hearing into Italy’s request to direct India to drop all criminal prosecution against two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012 and grant Rome jurisdiction in the case.

Italy took the issue to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2015, saying the case should be tried under maritime law as the incident happened in international waters. India, however, insists that the accused should return to New Delhi for a final judgment by an Indian court. Currently, the two marines — Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone — are in Italy.

Italy’s representative Francesco Azzarello told the court on Monday that Rome should have jurisdiction over the case because the two marines were functionaries of the Italian state doing their duty on board an Italian flagged ship in international waters. Mr. Azzarello said India already considers the marines guilty. “In India’s eyes there is no presumption of innocence: the marines were guilty of murder even before the charges were laid,” he was quoted as telling the court by Italian news agency ANSA.

In response, India’s representative G. Balasubramanian told the court, “Italy maintains it has the exclusive jurisdiction in the case but one must take into account the fact that India and the two fishermen are the victims in this case.”


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