India relinquishes physical custody of Italian Marines
The Supreme Court permitted Italian marine Massimilano Lattore to remain in Italy under the same conditions imposed upon his counterpart Salvatore Girone. This is the first time in four years that India has excused the marines from physical appearance in court proceedings over their killing of fishermen off Kerala's coast. Italy has argued in international arbitration forums that India lacks jurisdiction to detain Italians.
On 7 January 2012, 2 fishermen, Jelestine and Ajeesh Pinku, fishing in the Neendakara Fishing Harbour were shot dead in the seas off Ambalapuzha in Indian ocean. The episode is believed to have taken place in international waters. Enrica Lexie had been identified as the ship from which the fishermen were fired upon. The military personnel claimed they had misunderstood the fishermen for pirates.
After failed talks between External Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna and his Italian counterpart Giulio Terzi di Sant' Agata in February, Kerala police arrested the 2 Marines, Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, who fired the shots. The two were remanded to judicial custody for 14 days up till 5 March 2012. Captain of the Lexie Umberto Vitelli was also taken in for questioning.
On 18 May 2012, Neendakara Coastal Police filed a chargesheet showing Lattore and Girone as the first and second accused. Italian PM Mario Monti expressed his unhappiness to PM Manmohan Singh. Italy recalled its Ambassador to India Giacomo Sanfelice to protest against the filing of the chargesheet against the marines. After 105 days in custody, the officers were released on bail on 30 May.
The Italian vessel - Enrica Lexie left Indian borders after signing a bond of Rs 3 crores; its owner additionally gave Rs. 17 lakhs to the owner of the boat that was fired upon.
On 11 March 2013, Italy refused to return the two marines who had been on a visit to Italy to vote. In retaliation for the breach of understanding, SC restrained Ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving India, since the marines' leave had been sanctioned due to the envoy's undertaking. Mancini claimed immunity under the Vienna Convention which was quashed by SC on legal grounds.
The centre informed SC of its decision to engage in an international arbitration trial to be forseen by a UN convention, in the case where 2 Italian marines had shot 2 Indian fishermen in 2012. The centre also allowed for Latorre Massimiliano to extend his stay in Italy on medical grounds. The next hearing of the case has been scheduled for August 26.
The Supreme Court halted all criminal proceeding against the two Italian marines. The UN tribunal decided to suspend all proceedings against the marines and this decision forced the Centre government to ask SC to stop all proceedings. However, the marines will not be provisionally released. All proceeding are suspended till January 13 when the case will be taken up by the UN tribunal.
Nicola Latorre, President of Senate Defence Committee announced that Massimiliano Latorre, the Italian marine who had suffered a stroke in New Delhi in 2014 and had flown back home would not be returning back. This news comes a day before the marine case goes up for hearing in the SC. The senator said provisions were being made to get the second marine home too.
The Italian foreign ministry said that a UN court had ruled that India should release the detained Italian marine- Salvatore Girone. Girone has been in India since the 2 marines 'accidently' shot Indian fishermen. However, Indian government sources claimed that Italy is misrepresenting the UN court's decision to make it seem as if it has ordered the liberation of Salvatore Girone.
The Ministry of External Affairs told Italy that the Supreme Court will take a final call on the Italian marines case. The government said that SC will lay down the final bail conditions and the marine will be allowed to go back to Italy (provided he comes back when required). Further, the ministry reiterated that "he remains under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court."
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a plea by the Italian government seeking the relaxation of bail conditions of Sergeant Major Salvatore Girone. The court agreed to hear the plea after Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand supported the plea by the Italian government. Italy's pleas is based on the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea's arbitration on the case.
The Supreme Court has allowed Italian marine Sergeant Major Salvatore Girone to leave India, after relaxing the bail conditions it had set. A vacation bench of Justice Prafulla C. Pant and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud modified the bail condition paving the way for Girone's return. The court also added three new conditions to the bail. The Indian government registered its "no objection" to the move.