The Supreme Court on Wednesday permitted Massimiliano Latorre, the second Italian marine accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012, to stay put in his country till the international arbitral tribunal decided the jurisdictional issue. It said in the order that all the conditions, which were imposed on the other marine, Salvatore Girone, would be applicable in the case of Latorre as well.
A bench, headed by Justice A.R. Dave and composed of Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Amitava Roy, imposed another condition on the Union government by directing it to submit to the apex court a report every three months on the progress of the case at the international arbitral tribunal. The tribunal has to decide which country has the right to conduct the case.
The bench passed the order after the Centre filed a written affidavit, saying it had no objection to Latorre’s plea, provided the same conditions were imposed on him as was done in the case of the other marine. During the brief hearing, senior advocate K.N. Balagopal, appearing for the Kerala government, raised objected to the plea.
Senior advocate Rana Mukherjee, appearing for the victims’ family, said it was unlikely that the matter would conclude before the tribunal by 2018 or 2020 and claimed that the game plan was to drag the case.
The court’s direction came on a fresh plea by Italy, seeking modification of the bail conditions of Latorre to enable him to remain in that country till the jurisdictional issue is decided by the international tribunal.
On September 8, the apex court decided to hear Italy’s plea on behalf of Latorre, who had sought an urgent hearing on the ground that an earlier court order was valid until September 30, 2015.
While relaxing Girone’s bail conditions on May 26, 2016, the apex court allowed him to go to his country till the jurisdictional issue was decided.
The court had imposed four conditions on him, including that he has to report to a police station in Italy on the first Wednesday of each month and the Italian authorities have to inform the Indian Embassy in Rome about it.
The second condition was that he will not tamper with any evidence, nor influence any witness in the case.
The third was that Girone will give an undertaking that he will remain under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, and lastly if found violating any of these conditions, his bail will be cancelled, the court had said.
The complaint against the marines was lodged by Freddy, owner of the fishing boat St. Antony in which the two Kerala fishermen were killed when the marines opened fire from the Italian-flagged commercial oil tanker, Enrica Lexie, on them, allegedly under the misconception that they were pirates.
(With agencies input)