India has jurisdiction to try Italian marines for fishermen deaths: SC

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 18, 2013 11:50 hrs

Two Italian sailors charged with killing two Indian fishermen lost their Supreme Court bid on Friday to be tried on home soil, a victory for New Delhi in a diplomatic tussle over jurisdiction that has strained ties between the two countries.

The sailors, members of a military security team protecting the cargo ship Enrica Lexie, said they mistook the fishermen for pirates off the southern Indian state of Kerala in February 2012.

The counsel for the Italian government, Viplav Sharma, informed media that the Supreme Court has ruled that a special court should be set up to try the marines. There were no immediate details about how the court arrived at its long-awaited decision.

"The state of Kerala do (does) not have jurisdiction to register the FIR (First Information Report), the investigation has been held to be back in law and the investigation and trial proceedings of the Kerala has been set aside by this honourable court.

"At the same time, this conclusion has been arrived at by the Supreme Court on the basis that this case involves the question of extension of sovereignty and sovereign rights, which is within the domain of Union of India, so it is the Union of India, which will have its jurisdiction and for that purpose a special court will be constituted with the concurrence and consent of his lordship, the chief justice of India," said Sharma.

Italy challenged India's right to try the sailors in Supreme Court, saying the shooting took place in international waters, outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts.

Indian authorities accuse the sailors of shooting unarmed fishermen in a "contiguous zone" where Indian law applies. (ANI)

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