India’s Supreme Court cleared the decks for the Italian marine Sergeant Major Salvatore Girone – who along with Chief Master Sergeant Massimiliano Latorre, is accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala’s coast in South India in February 2012 – to leave India as it relaxed its earlier bail conditions.
Both marines were serving as security personnel on an Italian oil tanker MT Enrica Lexie crossing the Indian Ocean.
The case came up before the Supreme Court vacation bench comprising Justice Prafulla C. Pant and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud who modified the bail condition. This paved the way for Girone’s return to Italy on an application by the Italian government backed by India.
Girone’s request to leave country was supported by the Indian government on “humanitarian grounds”. As a condition Girone must report every month to a designated police station and agree to the orders of the Supreme Court issued after he leaves India.
His collegue Latorre left India in 2014 for medical treatment after a stroke and was allowed by the Supreme Court recently to stay in Italy till the end of September.
The Supreme Court bench recorded the Indian government’s “no objection” to the move.
The bench also added three more conditions proposed by Additional Solicitor General P.S.Narasimha on behalf of the Indian government while relaxing the order.
International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea order
Also the Supreme Court ordered Italian ambassador in New Delhi, Lorenzo Angleloni, to give a fresh undertaking stating that Girone shall be made to return to India in one month after the decision of the International Arbitral Tribunal and if required by Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court’s order comes in wake order of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on 29 April that asked both India and Italy to cooperate for Girone’s return till arbitration proceedings before it are going.
The April 29 order of the arbitral tribunal had come on an application by Italy.
The next date line set by the International Tribunal for the trial is in December 2018. Until then, Girone will be allowed to go to Italy and stay there.
Kerala’s Chief Minister objection
Meanwhile Kerala’s new chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan of the Left has objected to Girone being allowed to leave India, saying the Centre’s stand is unacceptable. “An accused who committed the crime here must be tried here. The Centre has been up to foul play in the Italian marines’ case from the beginning,” Vijayan alleged reacting to the relaxed bail condition.
Italy has invoked international arbitration on the issue of jurisdiction to try the two Italian marines for killing the fishermen mistaking them as sea pirates.
The Annex VII arbitral tribunal constituted under United Nation Convention on Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) by its April 29 order said, “Italy and India shall co-operate , including in proceedings before the Supreme Court of India, to achieve a relaxation of bail conditions of Sergeant Major Girone so as to give effect to the concept of consideration of humanity, so that Girone, while remaining under the authority of Supreme Court of India, may return to Italy during the present Annex VII arbitration.”
The tribunal in its order had also said that Italy was under obligation to return Sergeant Major Girone to India in case its holds that India has jurisdiction over him in respect of the “Enrica Lexie” incident.