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Indian attorney supports Italy's claim in shooting case

'Police lacked authority in international waters'

20 April, 15:15
Indian attorney supports Italy's claim in shooting case (ANSA) - New Delhi, April 20 - An Indian state attorney on Friday said police in southern India did not have proper jurisdiction to block an Italian tanker after the shooting deaths of two Indian fishermen, allegedly by two Italian marines on anti-pirate watch aboard the vessel.

"It did not have the authority because the incident occurred in international waters," said the attorney arguing at the Indian supreme court in New Delhi. The argument supports the position of Italy, which claims it should have jurisdiction for the case, not India, as the incident took place aboard an Italian vessel in international waters.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between the countries since being detained in February after an incident that took place while they were guarding the Enrica Lexie tanker. The pair are being held in a special section of a jail in the city of Thiruvananthapuram.

The Italian government also believes that, regardless of who has jurisdiction, the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India as they were military personnel working on an anti-piracy mission.

Italy has said the marines fired warning shots from the Enrica Lexie after coming under attack from pirates.

It said they followed the proper international procedures for dealing with pirate attacks, which are frequent in the Indian Ocean.

The Indian authorities, on the other hand, said the marines failed to show sufficient "restraint" by opening fire after mistaking the fishermen for pirates.

Indian ballistic experts said earlier this month that the bullets recovered from the bodies of fishermen are compatible with Beretta rifles confiscated from the Enrica Lexie.

Italy has said it would like another ballistics test. photo: Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone