Denying reports that Rome has asked India to let the two Marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012, to stay back in Italy to “boost bilateral ties”, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Spokesperson Vikas Swarup on Wednesday clarified that no assurances between two countries took place and added that the marines would remain under the jurisdiction of Supreme Court of India.
Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who were on duty as security guards on-board Italian-flagged commercial oil tanker MV Enrica Lexie, were arrested by the Indian authorities on February 2012 after they shot dead the fishermen off the coast of Kerala.
During meeting between External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and her Italian counterpart Paolo Gentiloni held on September 4 in Rome, Italy reportedly, urged India to allow the two marines to stay back home. “The Italian side conveyed that the presence of the two marines in Italy was conducive to restarting high level exchanges in all fields,” the Hindu quoted a Diplomat.
Following the report, a twitter user posed a question to Swarup, saying “Is it true that Italy has asked Marines to remain in Italy to boost bilateral ties?Ref. today’s report in @the_hindu (sic).” In his reply he said, “No such assurance was sought or given. Marines remain under jurisdiction of Supreme Court of India.
Matter is under arbitration.” Lattore is presently in Italy on medical grounds after he suffered heart stroke in 2014 and Girone, on the other hand, was also allowed to return on ‘humanitarian grounds’ in May this year.
The case is presently pending in the Permanent court of Arbitration in The Hague to adjudicate on whether India or Italy has the jurisdiction to extradite the accused marines after Italy approached on December 11, 2015 asking the tribunal to prescribe that “India shall take such measures as are necessary to relax the bail conditions on Sergeant Girone in order to enable him to return to Italy under the responsibility of the Italian authorities, pending the final determination of the Tribunal”.
The Tribunal on April 29, this year, ruled that Italy and India shall cooperate, including in proceedings before the Supreme Court of India, to achieve a relaxation of Girone’s bail conditions “to give effect to the concept of considerations of humanity”, so that Girone, while remaining under the authority of the Supreme Court of India, may return to Italy during the ongoing arbitration.
However differences emerged between two countries following the verdict as India claimed that the verdict upholds the Supreme Court’s Authority, while Italy believes that it vindicates their stand that India has no jurisdiction.