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ITLOS on Italian mariners: India and Italy to maintain ‘status quo’ over Enrica Lexie case


On 15 February 2012, two Italian marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, operating as part of an anti-piracy Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) on-board Italian-flagged commercial oil tanker MT Enrica Lexie, allegedly opened fire on the St. Antony killing two Indian fisherman, Jelestine and Ajeesh Pinku, on board, in the seas off Ambalapuzha. The incident has sparked a conflict of opinions over legal jurisdiction and functional immunity between the governments of India and Italy. In addition, it continues to cause diplomatic tension between the two nations.

                                                            Brief Time-line

Feb 17, 2012: Italian oil tanker Enrica Lexie is brought to Kochi 

Feb 19, 2012: Kerala police arrest the two Marines suspected to have fired the shots. Captain of the tanker Umberto Vitelli is also questioned.

Feb 20, 2012: Both marines were remanded in judicial custody for 14 days.
Feb 22, 2012: Italy moves the Kerala High Court, seeking to quash the first information report (FIR)

March 1, 2012: Italy informs India that it has initiated criminal proceedings against the marines under its law that could lead to a prison term of not less than 21 years.

March 19, 2012: Kollam Chief Judicial Magistrate extends the judicial custody of Marines by another 14 days.

March 29, 2012: Court allows Italian vessel to sail out, with riders. Judge directs the police to permit the ship to sail, on its agent furnishing a bond for Rs. 3 crore

April 3, 2012: Kerala High Court sets aside Kollam Magistrate court's order.

April 20, 2012: The legal heirs of the two deceased fishermen tell the Kerala High Court that a settlement for paying a compensation of Rs. 1 crore to each bereaved family has been reached between the Italian government representatives and them.

Apr 20, 2012: Additional Solicitor-General Harin Raval informs the Supreme Court that Enrica Lexie, was not in Indian waters when the shooting incident occurred.

April 27, 2012: The Kerala High Court approves the out-of-court settlement reached between Italy and J. Freddy, owner of the mechanised boat which was fired upon by two marines The boat owner accepts the out-of-court-settlement of Rs.17 lakh.

Apr 30, 2012: Describing Italy's compromise with the kin of the two Indian fishermen as “illegal” and “astonishing,” the Supreme Court says that they were “playing” with the Indian process of law.

May 2, 2012: Supreme Court allows the vessel, Enrica Lexie, to leave India, along with the crew and the remaining marines.

May 30, 2012: Kerala High Court grants bail to both the marines on various conditions, including a bond of Rs. 1 crore each with two Indian solvent sureties for a like amount.

June 2, 2012: After 105 days in custody, the two Italian marines, arrested for allegedly gunning down two Indian fishermen off Kerala, are released on bail.

Dec 22, 2012: The marines fly back home for Christmas in a chartered flight.

Jan 4, 2013: Marines return to Kerala from Italy post-Christmas.

Jan 18, 2013: The Supreme Court holds that the State of Kerala had no jurisdiction to investigate into the `Italian marines shooting incident’ and says only the Union of India had jurisdiction to proceed with the investigation and trial of the two marines.

Feb 22, 2013: The Supreme Court permits Marines Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone to visit their country to vote in the February 24 and 25 elections.

March 11, 2013: Italy refuses to return two of its marines.

March 18, 2013: Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini claims complete immunity under the Vienna Convention. Supreme Court makes it clear to the envoy that a person who came to the court as a petitioner cannot claim any immunity.

March 21, 2013: The Italian government says it will return to India two marines facing murder charges in the shooting deaths of two fishermen off the Kerala coast.

March 28, 2014: Italy rejects marines’ trial in India

September 12, 2014: SC allows Italian marine Latorre to return home for 4 months

April 7, 2015: Italian Marine Massimiliano Latorre moved the Supreme Court seeking extension of his stay in Italy on medical grounds. And same was extended by SC on April 9, 2015
July 26, 2015: Italy moves ITLOS in Marines case.

August 11, 2015: India has told the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) that Italy’s plea in the Italian marines case was "misleading". 

August 14, 2015: India rejects Italy's 4.4 crore offer to free marines.

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