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India 'mulls ruling out death sentence' for Italian marines

Pair accused of killing fishermen in piracy mixup

15 January, 18:34
India 'mulls ruling out death sentence' for Italian marines (see related) (ANSA) - New Delhi, January 15 - The Indian interior ministry is considering excluding the possibility of charging two Italian marines accused of murder under an anti-terrorism law that carries the death penalty, Indian news agency PTI reported Wednesday. Italy has appealed to the Indian Supreme Court amid fears that India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) intends to prosecute the pair under the 2002 law despite previous reassurances from the Indian government that the marines would not face the death penalty.

If the interior ministry rules out using the law, the NIA would effectively be taken off the case. Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are accused of killing fishermen Valentine (aka Gelastine) and Ajesh Binki after allegedly mistaking them for pirates and opening fire on their fishing trawler while guarding the privately owned Italian-flagged oil-tanker MT Enrica Lexie off the coast of Kerala on February 15, 2012.

The Italian petition to the Indian Supreme Court said the pair should be released due to the long delays in their trial. It demanded Indian magistrates "immediately present charges without using the anti-terrorism law," and proposed "authorizing the marines to return to Italy to wait out the time (required) for Indian trial," judicial sources said.

Italy's appeal will be examined Monday, Indian judicial sources told ANSA.