India: court says agency to probe Italian marines

AP News
Posted: Apr 26, 2013 4:41 AM

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's Supreme Court has ruled that an investigative agency will probe a murder case filed against two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen last year, news reports said Friday.

The court also ordered that a special court will proceed with hearing the case after the National Investigative Agency files charges against the marines, Press Trust of India news agency said.

A diplomatic row broke out between India and Italy last month when Rome said the marines would not return to India after they were allowed to go home to vote in an election.

The marines eventually returned after New Delhi assured Italy that the death penalty in India applies only in the "rarest of rare" cases, and the marines' case did not fall into that category.

India's Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the men should be tried by a special court to be set up by the central government. The decision removed the case from the jurisdiction of the southern state of Kerala, near where the shooting took place.

India's home ministry has directed the agency to investigate the case and present it to the special court that will be appointed by the Indian government.

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Since then, Italy raised objections to the agency filing cases under maritime laws, which carry a maximum penalty of death.

The Supreme Court also said that the special court should conduct the trial speedily.

The marines, Massimilian Latorre and Salvatore Girone, were part of a military security team on a cargo ship when they fired at the fishermen, saying they thought they were pirates.

Italy says that the shooting occurred in international waters and that Rome should have jurisdiction. India says the ship was in Indian territorial waters.