BERLIN (AP) — A U.N.-mandated tribunal on Monday ordered India to put on hold legal proceedings against two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012 until an arbitration panel has ruled on the dispute.
However, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg didn't act on Rome's request to order the release of one of the marines, who is still held in India.
Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were assigned to anti-piracy duty aboard an Italian oil tanker off India's coast at the time of the shootings.
Italy argues the shooting occurred in international waters, that the fishermen were mistaken for pirates and that the case should be heard in an Italian court. New Delhi insists it has jurisdiction and wants to charge both sergeants with murder.
The men had to stay in India without formal charges but were allowed to return temporarily to Italy to vote in 2013 elections. Latorre was allowed to travel home for medical treatment in September after suffering a stroke and is still in Italy, while Girone remains in India.
Rome took the case to international arbitration in June.
"Italy and India shall both suspend all court proceedings and shall refrain from initiating new ones which might aggravate or extend the dispute," the Hamburg, Germany-based U.N. tribunal said in its 15-6 majority ruling.
Italy's representative at the Hamburg court praised the decision.
"The tribunal recognized the full legitimacy and competency of the arbitration court on the matter," the Italian Foreign Ministry quoted Francesco Azzarello as saying.
But he expressed disappointment that the tribunal hadn't acted on the request to allow the marines to stay outside India while the case runs its course and said Italy was considering whether to renew its request before the arbitration court.