An UN court has ruled that India should release the Italian marine who has been in detention for four years. The Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday that the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Hague in an initial ruling, had decided that Salvatore Girone should be allowed to go back to Italy.
Two Italian marines were arrested after they reportedly shot dead two fishermen, some 20 nautical miles off India’s southern coast. The marines who were accompanying Italian flagged oil tanker Enrica Lexie, said they had mistaken the fishermen for pirates.
Italy argues that the marines should have immunity as they were servicemen working on a mission and that India does not have jurisdiction as the incident took place outside its territorial waters. India has maintained that it is a murder committed in Indian waters and not a maritime dispute as made out by the Italians.
The Italian foreign ministry said the ruling, which is expected to be officially announced on Tuesday in The Hague, comes after “a constructive attitude of India.”
However news outlets citing official sources in New Delhi said the order by the arbitration court “clearly recognises that Girone is under India’s authority alone.”
One of the marines, Massimiliano Latorre have been allowed to travel to Italy on health grounds.
India’s Supreme Court had last week allowed Latorre to extend his stay in Italy till September, following a heart surgery. The marine was to return to India on 30 April to face trial.
The PCA is an independent inter-governmental organization established by the 1899 Hague Convention on settlement of international disputes. The arbitral proceedings began in June last year when Italy served India with a notice of dispute. Rome and New Delhi has appointed Professor Francesco Francioni and Judge Patibandla Chandrasekhara Rao as their respective arbitrators.