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Indian court to review marines' appeal on Friday

Pair wants anti-terror police off murder case

24 March, 17:18
Indian court to review marines' appeal on Friday (ANSA) - New Delhi, March 24 - The Indian Supreme Court will examine an appeal filed by Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fisherman two years ago on Friday, March 28. Earlier this month, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone filed a petition against Indian authorities permitting that country's NIA anti-terrorism police to probe the case.

Also included to be reviewed is the marine's request to wait in Italy for the beginning of the trial.

The 50-page document argues that allowing the NIA to probe the case is not valid because their jurisdiction only extends to certain laws, such as suppression of piracy, which do not apply to the Italian sailors.

The document was prepared by the Italian legal team that has worked with the two marines for almost two years. India's Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati has already told the supreme court in New Delhi that he favoured dropping the anti-terrorism laws in this case - but has still asked the courts to uphold the NIA leading the investigation.

Latorre and Girone are accused of killing fishermen Valentine (aka Gelastine) and Ajesh Binki after allegedly mistaking them for pirates and reportedly opening fire on their fishing trawler.

The incident occurred while the marines were guarding the privately owned Italian-flagged oil-tanker MT Enrica Lexie off the coast of the southern Indian state of Kerala in February 2012.

The two marines have been living and working at the Italian embassy in India pending charges.

Rome has protested a long series of delays in the case, which has caused a deep diplomatic schism between the countries.

It also successfully fought to ensure New Delhi take the death penalty off the table.

India now warns that the pair could face up to 10 years in jail.

Italy is seeking international arbitration on the incident, which it insists took place in international waters.

Premier Matteo Renzi said on his appointment last month the case was "absurd and shocking".

He said the pair have been stuck "for too long" in New Delhi and has given them his personal guarantee to see them returned to Italy.

The Italian government's special envoy on the case Staffan de Mistura has argued that if the marines must face trial, it should be in Italy.

"They must come home," he said.