New Delhi : A high-level meeting was chaired on Thursday by Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde to discuss NIA’s request seeking sanction to prosecute Italian marines accused of killing two Kerala fishermen under a law which provides only death penalty.
The meeting was attended by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Law Minister Kapil Sibal as National Investigation Agency (NIA) had sought sanction under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf’ Act (SUA).
The Home Ministry wanted to know about executive assurance given by the External Affairs Ministry about not awarding the death penalty to the two marines, who have been arrested on charges of killing fishermen off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012, official sources said. The sources said that the Home Ministry wanted to ascertain the legal stand on the issue as India has already assured Italy that the offence would not warrant death under established jurisprudence.
One of the suggestions emerging was that after pressing the charges under SUA, the NIA may tell the trial court not to award the accused death penalty if found guilty, citing India’s commitment to Italy. Accused Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who were on board Italian vessel ‘Enrica Lexie’ and are now lodged in New Delhi’s Italy Embassy premises, allegedly shot dead the two fishermen off Kerala coast. The NIA completed its probe after questioning four Italian marines, who were witness to the incident, through video conferencing after their refusal to come to India. The Supreme Court had shifted the case to Delhi, saying Kerala Police have no jurisdiction over the case and backed the government’s decision to hand over the case to NIA.