Director General of Prosecution says this will help speedy trial

Now that the two Italians are back in India at the end of an unprecedented stand-off between the two countries, the marines will have to stand trial before a special court to be set up by the Union government in accordance with the Supreme Court’s directive.

The apex court had on January 18 directed that a special court be set up to try the marines accused of shooting to death two fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15 last year. One of the main arguments of the Italian government for not returning the marines to India after their four-week stay in Italy had been that the Government of India had taken no step to set up the special court. The Italian media had criticised the extreme delay in the Indian judicial process.

When a special court is set up, now that the issue has grabbed international attention, the biggest challenge before it would be to complete the trial in a short period.

For speedy trial

According to T. Asaf Ali, Kerala’s Director General of Prosecution (DGP), who had represented the State government in the Kerala High Court in the marines’ case, the best option before the Union government will be to designate the sessions court in Kollam as special court to try the sailors. “The best way for a speedy trial is to let the Kollam court try the case,” Mr. Ali told The Hindu on Friday. “For this, the Government of India has to designate it as special court on the basis of the Supreme Court directive.”

Mr. Ali pointed out that the police had filed their charge sheet against the marines before the Kollam court. All the records and evidences were now before this court. The police had already completed their investigation and the ship, Enrica Lexie, which was the key evidence, had long left the Indian waters. Moreover, if a special court were to be set up in New Delhi or elsewhere, the witnesses who were in Kerala would all have to travel to Delhi frequently to testify.

Best bet

“Since the biggest challenge before a special court would be to complete the trial in a short time, designating the Kollam court as special court will be the best bet,” Mr. Ali said. In his view, the Kollam court could complete the trial in three months as all the records and evidences were already before it.

In its January 18 order, the Supreme Court had said that Kerala had no jurisdiction to try the two foreigners and asked the Union government to set up a special court, in consultation with the Chief Justice of India, to try them. The proceedings pending before the Kollam sessions court should be transferred to the special court, the court said. The January 18 order also allowed the marines to be moved from Kochi to New Delhi and let them stay at the Italian embassy.

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