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SC defers hearing on Italian Marines case

February 18, 2014 17:48 IST

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to make its stand clear on disputes arising out of the issue of invoking anti-piracy law against two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012.

A bench headed by Justice B S Chauhan asked the government to respond by February 24 when it will hear the case.

"We want to know the decision taken by the government to decide the case," the bench said.

Attorney General G E Vahanvati told the bench that the government is waiting Law Ministry's opinion which might come by Friday.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Italian government and the marines, submitted that the Centre has not been able to move in the case despite the apex court's order and pleaded that his client be allowed to go back to their country till Centre takes a decision.

The bench said that it will take up the case on February 24 and will then hear the submission.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Italian government challenging invoking of anti-terrorism law SUA, saying it is against the order of the apex court which allowed proceedings only under the Maritime Zone Act, IPC, CrPC and UNCLOS.

The joint petition, filed by Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini along with Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, also sought direction to the Centre and NIA to expedite the proceedings in the case or discharge the marines.

The petition said invoking the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against safety of Maritime Navigation And Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (SUA)) "would tantamount to the Republic of Italy being termed a terrorist state and acts of its organs, which were in repression of piracy, as being deemed as acts of terrorism, which is wholly untenable and unacceptable in the facts and circumstances of this case and in keeping with the comity of nations and international cooperation".

The case pertains to the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by Latorre and Girone on board 'Enrica Lexie' off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.

The two officers contended that they had apprehended a piracy attack. The marines were arrested on February 19, 2012.

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