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SC defers ruling on Italian marines till Thursday

SC defers ruling on Italian marines till Thursday

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will pronounce Thursday (April 25) its order on the Italian government's plea against the invoking of SUA 2002 and investigation by the National Investigation Agency into the killing of two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast by its two marines February 2012.

The apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, which was to pronounce its order Monday, said that it would do so Thursday.

The Italian government has contended that if convicted, its two marines would face death sentence, a mandatory punishment if a person is convicted under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, (SUA) 2002.

On March 22, after the return of the marines from Italy, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told parliament that India had offered Italy an assurance that its marines, Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, would not get the death penalty if they returned by the deadline set by the Supreme Court.

Khurshid said that the case did not fall in the category of "rarest of rare cases" that attract the death penalty in India, so there was no fear of that.

On Feb 15, 2012, the two marines, posted on security duty aboard an Italian-registered oil tanker, Enrica Lexie, mistaking a boat of fishermen for pirates, shot and killed two Indian fishermen, Ajay Binki and Gelastine.

The incident occurred about 20.5 nautical miles off the coast of Kerala.

The case was initially tried in Kerala. The Italians have been contesting the jurisdiction of Indian courts in the matter, saying the incident occurred in international waters.

Trial was shifted to the apex court, which April 16 reserved its verdict on the plea of the Italian government and its two marines.

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