NIA to probe fishermen’s killing as SC leaves matter to government

New Delhi, April 26 (IANS) The NIA will continue its investigations into the killing of two Indian fishermen Feb 15, 2012 off the Kerala coast by Italian marines as Supreme Court Friday left it to the central government to take further steps in pursuance to its Jan 18 orders.

A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Vikramajit Sen, while noting the steps that have already been taken by the government, left to it to take further steps in pursuance of its Jan 18 orders when it ruled that the Kerala government has no jurisdiction to try two Italian marines and ordered their trial by a special court.

Pronouncing the brief order Friday, the court said all the objections could be raised before the special court that would be constituted to try two Italian marines. The court clarified that the special court would deal with this case only and conclude the trial at the earliest.

The marines, Lattore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, posted as security staff on board an Italian cargo vessel ‘Enrica Lexie’, had shot and killed two fishermen – Gelastine and Ajesh Binki – mistaking them for pirates.

The apex court order came in the wake of the plea by the Italian government and its two marines challenging the handing over of the investigation into the killing two fishermen off Kerala coasts to National Investigation Agency (NIA) and invoking of a stringent act in the fresh FIR registered in Delhi. They had contended that NIA had no jurisdiction to investigate the case and the same be handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The Italian government and its two marines had contended that under Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002 (SUA), that had been invoked against two marines, death sentence is mandatory if they are convicted.

The Italian government and two marines had also contended that the invoking of SUA against them and handing of investigation to NIA was contrary to the apex court verdict which had said that two marines be tried under the Indian Penal Code, Criminal Procedure Code, Maritime Zones Act and United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

In the course of the hearing of the plea by Italian government and its two marines, the government had contended that the investigation was entrusted to the NIAS because CBI was “extremely over-burdened”.

The government had assured the court that “NIA and the prosecution will do (things) strictly according to the verdict of the court” and it had not done anything that was “contrary to the Jan 18 verdict of the court”.

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