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Indian Supreme Court to rule on Italian marines Tuesday

Rome demanding decision on terror charges in 2012 shooting

17 February, 19:14
Indian Supreme Court to rule on Italian marines Tuesday (ANSA) - New Delhi, February 17 - Italy is expecting concrete answers Tuesday when India's Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on an appeal by the Italian government in the case of two marines arrested over two shooting deaths that occurred while they were on anti-piracy duty.

Lawyers for the Indian government and defence attorneys for Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone will gather to hear the judge's rulings on Italy's appeal for the marines' release due to lengthy delays in investigation of the case.

Media reports also suggest that the Indian request that terrorism charges be applied in the case could be dropped on Tuesday.

It's believed that India's justice ministry will choose to proceed under the country's penal code rather than the SUA law, India's tough interpretation of an international treaty against terrorism and piracy framed after the infamous 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking. New Delhi, which has already taken the SUA-mandated death penalty off the table, appears to be gradually ceding to pressure not just from Rome but from the European Union, according to news reports.

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton raised the issue again with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday, while Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino saw United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.

Ashton has warned that the case has implications for all of Europe and for all efforts to combat piracy.

The marines 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 marines have been living and working at the Italian embassy in India pending charges in the case that has stressed relations between India and Italy.

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