New Delhi: Two Italian marines, who are accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012, are scheduled to appear tomorrow before a Delhi court which would hear the NIA’s plea requesting it to take “appropriate steps” to secure their custody.

The case that has triggered a diplomatic row between India and Italy will come up for hearing before Additional Sessions Judge Dharmesh Sharma who had issued notices against marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone asking them to appear before him.

The notice was issued to them on a plea filed by National Investigation Agency (NIA) which had requested the court to take steps to have the custody of the two accused according to directions of the Supreme Court.

On the scheduled date of hearing, both Latorre and Girone did not turn up before the court but their lawyers appeared and the accused were exempted from personal appearance for that day only.

“Notices of the application moved on behalf of NIA have been served upon the accused persons. They are not present today. On oral request, the accused persons are exempted from personal appearance for today,” the judge had said on the last date of hearing last month.

“As requested by senior counsel for the accused persons, they have been supplied copies of the (NIA’s) application and annexure. Senior counsel request time to file reply. Now to come up for reply, if any, and arguments on January 8, 2014,” the court had said.

The Supreme Court, on January 18, 2013, had said, “till such time as the special court is set up, the petitioner Nos. 2 and 3 (both the marines) will be under the custody of this (apex) court.”

The NIA’s plea assumes significance in the wake of the Supreme Court’s direction and the special court will decide on the issue of custody of the marines.

According to sources, the charge sheet in the case is likely to be filed this month.

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