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Probe into Italian marines case handed over to NIA

April 01, 2013 16:05 IST

The National Investigation Agency was on Monday handed over the probe into the killing of two Indian fishermen, allegedly by Italian marines, off the Kerala coast.

The home ministry has taken the decision after the Supreme Court ruled that the Kerala government has no jurisdiction to prosecute the two Italian marines -- Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone -- who were allegedly involved in the killing of the fishermen last year.

The NIA will investigate the case and file the charge-sheet in a special court, which will be set up by the government in consultation with the apex court, home ministry sources said.

The ministry is likely to convey to the Supreme Court that since there is a NIA special court in Delhi, the high-profile case can be tried by it, instead of setting up another special court.

The apex court on January 18 had said that the marines on board Enrica Lexie, accused of killing two fishermen in February last year, be shifted to Delhi.

The marines should be under the 'custody' of the Supreme Court till the Centre constitutes a special court to hold their trial, it said.

"The incident of firing from the Italian vessel on the Indian shipping vessel having occurred within the Contiguous Zone, the Union of India is entitled to prosecute the two Italian marines under the criminal justice system prevalent in the country," the bench had said.

The apex court had said that since the Kerala government had no jurisdiction to prosecute the two foreign marines, it had to be done by the Centre in a special court, which will be set up after consulting the Chief Justice of India.

The incident took place at a distance of nearly 20.5 nautical miles from the coastline of Kerala. It occurred not within the territorial waters of the coastline of Kerala State but within the Contiguous Zone, over which Kerala Police have no jurisdiction, the court had said.

 The Italian government had reversed its earlier decision and decided to send the two marines back to India to stand trial.

Italy had reneged on its assurance to the Supreme Court on sending back the two marines, but later gave in after the Indian government and the apex court took a firm stand, with New Delhi warning that ties with Rome could be downgraded.

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