Italy moves High Court

February 22, 2012 01:17 pm | Updated November 17, 2021 12:18 am IST - New Delhi

Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura arrives at South Block in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura arrives at South Block in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Italy has moved the Kerala High Court, seeking to quash the first information report (FIR) registered against two of its naval personnel for the killing of two fishermen off the Kerala coast.

In a petition, Consul-General Giampaolo Cutillio and the arrested naval personnel, Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, argued that under the principles of international law and conventions, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that India has ratified, Indian courts had no jurisdiction to register a crime in connection with the incident.

They said the alleged offence did not take place in Indian territorial waters or on board an Indian vessel. Therefore, the FIR registration, the launching of an investigation into the incident, and the arrest of the two Marines were “wholly without jurisdiction, null and void,” and liable to be quashed.

The naval guards, the petition said, had functional immunity under the international law because they were on duty to protect the vessel against piracy.

They pointed out that it was even the prosecution's case that the incident took place outside India's territorial waters in the contiguous zone/exclusive economic zone of India, that is, 22.5 nautical miles off Kerala. Therefore, the police had no jurisdiction to register a case against the naval officers.

Justice Harun-Ul-Rasheed directed the agent of the oil tanker, Enrica Lexie, to give the High Court Registrar-General a bank guarantee of Rs. 25 lakh against the compensation claim filed by the family of one of the two fishermen. The court also directed the Deputy Conservator of the Cochin Port Trust to detain the ship till the agent gave the bank guarantee. The order came on a petition seeking a compensation of Rs.1 crore from the shipowner, the captain and the two guards. It was filed by Doramma, wife of Valantine, and her sons Derrick, 17, and V. Jeen, 10.

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