Supreme Court allows ailing Italian marine to return home

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday allowed one of the two Italian marines, facing murder charges in India, to travel to his country for medical treatment for four months after the Centre said that "in principle" it has no objection to the plea.

Supreme Court allowed Italian marine Massimiliano Latorre to go back to Italy for four months. AP

Supreme Court allowed Italian marine Massimiliano Latorre to go back to Italy for four months. AP

The apex court said its order will be "operational" only after Italian marine Massimiliano Latorre, who suffered brain stroke on 31 August, gives an "unequivocal" and "unambiguous" undertaking of the dates of departure and arrival back to India.

Latorre was directed to give a fresh undertaking in specific terms by a bench headed by Chief Justice RM Lodha as it declined to accept the already prepared one in which he made mention of jurisdiction issue about the case.

The bench ordered him to withdraw about eight paragraphs from the undertaking in which the "issue of jurisdiction" was raised about the case which pertains to the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by Italian marines Latorre and Salvatore Girone on board ship 'Enrica Lexie' off Kerala coast on 15 February, 2012.

The apex court took on record the undertaking furnished by Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini on behalf of the Republic of Italy that the ailing marine would abide by all terms and conditions set for his travel to his native country.

"Having heard the counsel, we are of the view that applicant be permitted to travel to Italy for his treatment for a period of four months," the bench, also comprising justices Kurian Joseph and RF Nariman said.

The bench said the condition for the relief granted to Latorre would be same as set by the apex court on 22 February, 2013 when the two marines were allowed to travel to Italy under the control and custody of the Ambassador of Italy in India, to cast their ballot in the elections.

In the order, the bench also said "since the Government of India has no objection in principle on the plea of the applicant (Latorre), we direct that authorities here will facilitate his travel".

Latorre had submitted a request to the Supreme Court to allow him to return to Italy for his "more rapid and complete recovery".

The way for passing the order became easier as a victim, who was injured in firing by two Italian Marines, withdrew his plea for verifying the medical condition of Latorre.

The victim, Freddy, who is also a complainant in the case, had pleaded before the apex court for constitution of a medical board of AIIMS doctors for medical examination of Latorre.

Freddy is the owner of the fishing boat 'St Antony', in which two Indian fishermen were murdered when the marines started firing on them allegedly under the misconception that they were pirates.

The apex court had on 8 September sought the Centre's clear stand on whether it has any "serious objection" on the plea of Latorre to travel to his country for treatment in the wake of brain stroke suffered by him.

The court was informed that the charge sheet in the case has not been filed and the criminal proceedings before a special court in the national capital has been kept at abeyance by its 28 March order.

The Supreme Court on 18 January, 2013 had directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the case against the marines and directed the Centre to set up a special court to conduct the trial on a day-to-day basis after transferring the case from a court in Kerala to national capital.

The accused Italian marines had moved the apex court challenging the jurisdiction of NIA to prosecute and probe the case.

The move to challenge NIA's jurisdiction had come after the Indian Government decided to withdraw their prosecution under the stringent anti-piracy SUA law that attracts death penalty as maximum punishment.

The marines had contended that the 1983 notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs extending the whole of the Indian Penal Code to the Exclusive Economic Zone is ultra vires of the Marine Zones Act (MZA), 1976.

The Centre on 24 February had told the apex court that the marines would not be prosecuted under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation And Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (SUA).

It had said that the contentious issue of SUA was resolved with Italy after the Law Minister had opined that provisions of the anti-piracy law are "not attracted" in this case.

PTI


Updated Date: Sep 12, 2014 19:33 PM

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