Italian marines case: Court to hear NIA's plea on March 31

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Feb 26 2014, 00:48am hrs
A Delhi court today fixed March 31 for hearing arguments on NIA's plea to take "appropriate steps" to secure the custody of two Italian marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012.

Additional Sessions Judge Bharat Parashar posted the case for March 31 after NIA's prosecutor and counsel for accused duo Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone said that the matter was in the Supreme Court where arguments will be heard after two weeks.

"This case has to be adjourned for two weeks," senior prosecutor Ahmed Khan said, adding that certain issues regarding the probe agency were being debated upon before the apex court.

The court, however, directed the counsel appearing for the two marines that they have to move exemption application for accused before it if they does not appear during the hearing.

"It is directed that till the time hearing on the present plea (of NIA) commences, the counsel for the accused shall move application seeking exemption for the accused...," the court said and posted the matter for March 31.

During the hearing, National Investigation Agency (NIA) told the court that they are "ready" with the charge sheet in the case.

The Centre had yesterday told the apex court that the two marines will not be prosecuted under the stringent anti-piracy SUA law that attracts death penalty as maximum punishment.

The Italian government, however, had questioned in the apex court the jurisdiction of NIA to investigate the case, saying that the agency cannot probe offences under the Indian Penal Code and the bench had agreed to adjudicate the matter.

The case pertains to the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by Latorre and Girone on board 'Enrica Lexie'.

Fearing a pirate attack, the two officers had allegedly fired at the fishermen's vessel off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012, killing two of them. The marines were arrested on February 19, 2012.

Earlier, the NIA had told the trial court that it would file the charge sheet in the case after the Supreme Court decides on the issue raised by the Italian government.

A Supreme Court bench headed by Justice B S Chauhan is hearing the plea filed by Ambassador of Italy Daniele Mancini and the two marines.

The Supreme Court, on January 18 last year, had held that the marines should be tried by the Centre and had turned down the plea of the Italian government that Indian courts had no jurisdiction in the case.

The apex court had allowed NIA to probe the case against the marines and asked the special court to conduct the trial on a day-to-day basis after the charge sheet is filed.