New Delhi, Feb 10 IANS | 10 months ago

Two Italian marines accused of allegedly killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast Monday opposed the framing of charges against them under an anti-piracy law.

Appearing for marines Massimilliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, senior counsel Mukul Rohtagi told a bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice S.A.Bobde that in view of an apex court judgment, the two could not be tried under the Suppression of Unlawful Act against the Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Law (SUA).

He told the court that according to judgment delivered by then Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, the two marines could only be tried under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

However, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told the court that Justice J. Chelameswar, while agreeing with then Chief Justice Kabir, had in a separate judgment said that marines could be tried under the SUA.

He placed before the court the notification by which the government has said that trial of Italian marines under the SUA would be under its new provision which would not attract death penalty in the event of their being convicted.

Rohtagi said the National Investigation Agency could not have investigated the case as any investigation by it in such matter would invoke the SUA.

In an indication of the government's resolve, Vahanvati said the two marines will have to face a trial.

The marines were on board Italian vessel 'Ernica Lexie' and allegedly shot the Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast Feb 15, 2012.

The court is hearing a plea by the two marines who approached it contending that despite its unequivocal directions to complete the trial in one year, the NIA has not even filed the charge sheet in the matter. The court will next hear the matter Feb 18.

(Posted on 10-02-2014)

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