India should send Marine to Italy, U.N. arbitration court rules

Salvatore Girone is now at the Italian embassy in Delhi, while Massimiliano Latorre (right) is back in Italy. Photo: PTI

Salvatore Girone is now at the Italian embassy in Delhi, while Massimiliano Latorre (right) is back in Italy. Photo: PTI  

The lone Italian marine, Salvatore Girone, facing a murder charge in India could return home soon in the wake of a decision of an international tribunal at The Hague.

The verdict is the first big pronouncement of the PCA (Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague), after Italy approached it in June 2015.

Two Italian marines — Massimiliano Latorre and Mr. Girone are facing the charge of murdering two Indian fishermen in 2012 off the Kerala coast. The fishermen were killed when the marines on duty aboard MV Enrica Lexie, an Italian-flagged oil tanker, fired at them.

Mr. Latorre is back in Italy after a stroke in 2014 while Mr. Girone is staying at the Italian embassy here.

However, differences have cropped up between the two countries over the details of the verdict which will govern the marine’s return. While India has claimed that the verdict upholds the Supreme Court’s authority, Italian officials have said it is a vindication of their position that India has no jurisdiction.

“The Tribunal left it to the Supreme Court of India to fix the precise conditions of Sergeant Girone’s bail. This could include him reporting to an authority in Italy designated by our Supreme Court, surrendering his passport to Italian authorities and not leaving Italy without the permission of our Supreme Court. Italy shall apprise our Supreme Court of his situation every three months,” said a statement from Vikas Swarup, Official Spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

‘SC authority upheld’

The statement from the Official Spokesperson also highlighted that India’s arguments in this case have been “recognised”. “The authority of the Supreme Court has been upheld. We remain confident that the issue of jurisdiction will be determined in our favour,” he said.

“The Italian government expects India to take a constructive attitude, also in the subsequent phases, including with regard to the jurisdiction of the dispute,” a statement from the Foreign Ministry of Italy said.

Italian state-owned news agency ANSA reported that Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi spoke to Mr. Girone and sent a message of “friendship and cooperation” to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the people of India.

“We are always ready to cooperate,” Mr. Renzi said in his message from Florence. Mr. Girone is one of the two marines who are however yet to be charged by India of murdering the two fishermen.

The other marine, Massimiliano Latorre, returned home in 2014 after falling ill and has remained in Italy since then.

On March 30, Italy had sought the return of Mr. Girone as a “provisional measure” as the arbitration could go on for the next few years. Not doing so, Italy argued would amount to “deprivation of liberty” for him as he has been in India since 2012.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 2:21:20 AM |

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