Italian marines’ departure leaves questions open

Updated - November 17, 2021 12:19 am IST

Published - January 19, 2013 12:06 am IST - KOCHI

When the Air India flight AI 048 left the Cochin International Airport at 8 p.m. on Friday with two Italian marines aboard, it left behind many questions unanswered and doubts lingering in legal circles.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, the marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kollam coast while on duty on board Italy-flagged oil tanker Enrica Lexie in February 2012, left the city along with the seven-member Italian team and their lawyer following the Supreme Court order.

Even as the details of the Supreme Court order came out, legal experts raised doubts on the order endangering safety of fishing activities in contiguous maritime zone, which is between 12 nautical miles and 24 nautical miles.

Criminal jurisdiction of the State government holds till 12 nautical miles, where the territorial seas end.

The Supreme Court Bench observed in its order that the Government of Kerala has no jurisdiction over contiguous zones, even if the Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code were extended and asked for the constitution of a special court to proceed with the trial.

This has now cast doubts on the merits of the investigation completed and charges laid by the special team of the State Police under the then Kochi City Police Commissioner M.R. Ajith Kumar.

“A clear idea about the legality of the investigation and the final report submitted by the State Police and whether a new inquiry needs to be done can be formed only after going through the Supreme Court order,” said M.K. Damodaran, former Advocate General.

Both the marines reported at the office of the City Police Commissioner here on Friday around 9.30 a.m., as part of the trial process going on at the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Kollam. However, after the Supreme Court order was issued, the duo went along with the team straight to the airport.

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