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International

NIA planning to file case closure report

July 05, 2020 05:53 AM

COURTESY HT JULY 5

NIA planning to file case closure report
Neeraj Chauhan

letters@hindustantimes.com

New Delhi : The National Investigation Agency (NIA) plans to close its case against Italian marines for killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012, two officials familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

This comes after the Centre on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to dispose of the matter related to the jurisdictional issues of the case as it has agreed to accept a UN tribunal’s ruling that the two marines cannot be prosecuted. The five-member arbitral tribunal, under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, said India is entitled to compensation in the case but said the marines deserve immunity and that India is “precluded from exercising its jurisdiction”.

The officials cited above said they will file a closure report in the case in a few weeks after getting a go-ahead from the Union home ministry. “The case is more or less null and void now,” an official said on condition of anonymity. The official added that the report will be filed before the court of additional sessions judge-1 at New Delhi’s Patiala House Courts, which was designated for the case when it was filed in April 2013.

The marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, moved the Supreme Court against a May 2012 judgment of the Kerala high court, which held the state government had the jurisdiction to try them. The high court ruled the marines enjoyed no state immunity since their act was neither in the defence of the vessel nor the state. The matter is pending before the Supreme Court, which granted the marines conditional bail and allowed them to return to Italy in 2016.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has opposed the withdrawal of the case against the marines and asked the Centre to explore the possibility of a review petition. His letter to the PM read, “It is quite shocking that such a grave crime committed against our citizens is not being brought to justice in our country.”

The two fishermen were killed after the marines fired upon them from an oil tanker they were deployed to guard against pirates. The ship was intercepted and brought to Kochi, where the marines were arrested and charged with murder. International law expert Zulfiqar Memon called it a failure. “It shows that the life of poor Indian fishermen has no value when compared to the accused who happen to be citizens of a powerful European nation who are protected under immunity,” he said. He added the compensation cannot undo the damage the killings caused.

 

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