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Italian marines case: UN tribunal hears Italy-India row over fishermen deaths

Italy maintains that the shooting occurred in international waters, that the fishermen were mistaken for pirates and the case should be heard in an Italian court.

By: AP | Hamburg |
August 11, 2015 10:59:03 am
Senior Adviser of the Italian delegation Sir Daniel Bethlehem, left, and the Counsel of the Indian delegation Alain Pellet, right, chat at beginning of the first public hearing. AP Photo Senior Adviser of the Italian delegation Sir Daniel Bethlehem, left, and the Counsel of the Indian delegation Alain Pellet, chat at beginning of the first public hearing. AP Photo

Italy asked a UN-mandated tribunal on Monday to order that India put on hold its case against two Italian marines over a 2012 incident in which they are accused of killing two Indian fishermen.

Marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were assigned to anti-piracy duty aboard an Italian oil tanker off India’s coast at the time of the shootings.

The men had to stay in India without formal charges, though they were allowed to return temporarily to Italy to vote in 2013 elections. Latorre was allowed to travel home for treatment in September after suffering a stroke and is still there, while Girone remains in India. The country insists it has jurisdiction and wants to charge both sergeants with murder.

Italy maintains that the shooting occurred in international waters, that the fishermen were mistaken for pirates and the case should be heard in an Italian court.

Rome took the case to international arbitration in June. Pending that, it wants the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea to order restrictions on the marines’ movement lifted, enabling Girone to return home and Latorre to remain there.

It also wants the tribunal to say that India shouldn’t exercise jurisdiction pending an arbitration ruling.

“Frustration, stress and deteriorating medical conditions affecting directly and indirectly the people involved threaten great prejudice to Italy’s rights and mean that there is the need to address urgently this situation,” Italian delegate Francesco Azzarrello told the tribunal.

Indian delegate Neeru Chadha said there is no justification for Italy’s request and the fishermen’s families are still waiting for “justice which has been delayed by Italy’s intransigence.”

Hearings continue Tuesday. It wasn’t immediately clear when the tribunal will rule.

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