SC reserves verdict on Italian marines’ plea

September 4th, 2012 - 10:36 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 4 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday reserved its verdict on the pleas by the Italian government and its two marines seeking the quashing of charges against them and halting their trial for killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in February.

Chief Master Sergeant Massimilano Latorre and Sergeant Salvatore shot dead two Indian fishermen Feb 15, allegedly suspecting them to be pirates.

An apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar reserved the verdict after senior counsel V. Giri, appearing for Kerala, told the court that he would ask the advocate general of the state not to proceed with the trial of the two marines till the verdict was pronounced by the apex court.

Concluding his rejoinder arguments, senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the Italian government and the marines, told the court that the Kerala government had no jurisdiction to take cognizance of the offence committed 200 nautical miles in the sea. The exclusive economic zone (EEZ) was an area beyond and adjacent to the territorial sea.

Salve told the court that 1982 UN Convention on Law of the Sea recognised the sovereign rights of the country for exploring and exploitation of the natural resources and no other sovereign rights.

He said that Kerala had the local jurisdiction which was on a part of the state or the state as a whole and the same could not be extended to the EEZ.

Giri said that the UN convention could not be read in the case of the two Italian marines as it had no legislative backing by parliament.

Kerala told the court that based on the notification issued by the central government, the both the Criminal procedure code and the Indian Penal Code would apply in the case of two marines.

The central government earlier told the court that the two Italian marines enjoyed no sovereign immunity and were liable to face prosecution under the Indian laws.

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