In a setback to the two Italian marines who had sought to quash the case against them for shooting and killing two Indian fishermen, the Supreme Court today said that the Indian government did have jurisdiction to conduct the trial against them, although it said the state of Kerala did not.
The Italian government had sought to quash the case against the two marines on the grounds that the Kerala state government did not have the jurisdiction to conduct the trial against them.
A bench consisting of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J Chelameswar agreed that the Kerala state government did not have jurisdiction to conduct the trial against them, but it ruled that the Government of India did have jurisdiction to conduct the trial, CNN-IBN reported.
The two marines Chief Sargent Massimiliano Lattore and Sargent Salvatore Girone were facing trial in a Kerala court after their arrest.
The apex court bench ruled that a special court would be set up under the Chief Justice of India to conduct the trial in the case and it would be a designated court headed by a judge appointed by him.
The trial in the case had been put on hold while the apex court decided on the validity of the Italian government's plea to quash the case against the two soldiers. The two soldiers, who are presently out on bail, had recently been allowed to visit their homes in Italy to be with their families for Christmas.
The Italian government had contended that only the Military Court in Rome has the jurisdiction to prosecute the accused officers as only the Republic of Italy and its institutions (military and judicial) have the authority to deal with any inquiry and consequential legal proceedings against them.
Two Indian fishermen were allegedly killed by the two Italian naval officers on board cargo vessel ‘Enrica Lexie’ off the Kerala coast. Fearing a pirate attack, the two officers had allegedly fired at the fishermen’ vessel off Kerala coast, killing two of them.