Thursday, April 25, 2013

NIA to continue probe against two Italian marines: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday said that the NIA will continue with the probe against two Italian marines accused of killing Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in February 2012.The apex court said that the day-to-day proceedings will be conducted by a special court against the marines.

The special court will handle no other case except the case against the marines, the SC said.

The Italian government has contended that if convicted, its two marines would face death sentence, a mandatory punishment if a person is convicted under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (SUA), 2002.On March 22, after the return of the marines from Italy, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid told Parliament that India had offered Italy an assurance that its marines, Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, would not get the death penalty if they returned by the deadline set by the Supreme Court.

Khurshid said the case did not fall in the category of \"rarest of rare cases\" that attracts the death penalty in India, so there was no fear of that.

However, the Italian government and the marines moved the apex court after the two security detail were booked under the SUA and investigation was entrusted to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

In the course of the last hearing of the case April 16, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi had assailed the NIA for invoking the SUA, under which, he noted, \"death is answered by death\".\" The SUA has a mandatory death penalty, he said.

Section 3(g)(1) of the SUA says that the offender who causes death to any person, (he) shall be punished with death. The section deals with the offences against ship, fixed platform, cargo of a ship, maritime navigational facilities, etc. and provides for punishments.

On Feb 15, 2012, the two marines, posted on security duty aboard an Italian-registered oil tanker, Enrica Lexie, mistaking a boat of fishermen for pirates, shot and killed two Indian fishermen, Ajay Binki and Gelastine.

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