Enrica Lexie case: UN tribunal upholds conduct of Indian authorities

Tribunal says actions of Italian military officers and the country breached India''s freedom of navigation

Italian marines Salvatore Girone (Left) and Massimiliano Latorre. Photo: PTI (File)

Eight years after two Italian marines were charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen in international waters off the Kerala coast, an international tribunal has upheld the conduct of the Indian authorities over the incident, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said on Thursday (July 02).

According to MEA Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava, the arbitral tribunal upheld the conduct of the Indian authorities under provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), an international agreement. The tribunal was constituted under Annex VII of the UNCLOS, on June 26, 2015, on the request of Italy.

Srivastava said the tribunal held that the actions of the Italian military officers and, consequently, Italy breached India”s freedom of navigation under UNCLOS Article 87(1)(a) and 90. “The tribunal observed that India and Italy had concurrent jurisdiction over the incident and a valid legal basis to institute criminal proceedings against the marines.”

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“The tribunal rejected Italy”s claim of compensation for the detention of the marines. However, it found that the immunities enjoyed by the marines as State officials operate as an exception to the jurisdiction of the Indian courts and, hence, preclude them to judge the marines,” he added.

India had accused the two marines on board the MV Enrica Lexie, an Italian flagged oil tanker, of shooting dead two Indian fishermen February 15, 2012. The next day, the Kerala police charged the Italian marines with murder, based on the postmortem carried out on the deceased fishermen.

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