Jaitley assures Parl of justice in Italian marines case

RSTV Bureau

Italian-marines-PTIA day after UN tribunal ruled in favour of an Italian marine accused of killing an Indian fisherman, the government assured the Parliament that it will fight for victims’ rights.

On Monday, a UN tribunal ruled in favour of Salvatore Girone by allowing him to return home to Italy pending the arbitration in India.

Girone is one of the two Italian marines convicted in India for killing two Indian fishermen after mistaking them for pirates.

Speaking on behalf of External Affairs Minister who is ill, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told the Lok Sabha on Tuesday afternoon that the UN arbitration tribunal’s order allowing Italian marine to return home from India pending its proceedings has “affirmed” the Supreme Court’s authority and not questioned it.

He added that the tribunal confirmed Italy’s obligation to return Girone to India in case India’s jurisdiction over him was established.

“We see the tribunal’s order not just as a recognition of India’s consistent positions and key arguments but also as an affirmation of the authority of the Supreme Court of India,” said Jaitley.
He informed the House members that the tribunal also left it to the Supreme Court to fix precise conditions of his bail.

Congress members expressed unhappiness on the way the government was handling the case. Congress members, including Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, staged a walkout, after Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not allow them to ask questions on the matter.

Jaitley said the issue of jurisdiction, which is “at the heart” of the case, is yet to be even argued before the tribunal and the “limited relief” given on humanitarian considerations has been made contingent to the clear cut undertakings provided by Italy that Girone will return to India in case its jurisdiction is established.

“The tribunal noted that while Italy had earlier made a far-reaching request that, if granted, would have removed Sergeant Girone entirely from the reach of India’s legal system. This time Italy was only requesting India to relax the bail conditions to enable him to return to Italy.

The tribunal has prescribed that India and Italy will approach the Supreme Court for relaxation of bail conditions of Girone who, while remaining under the court’s authority, may return to Italy for the duration of the present arbitration, he noted.

As a nation that respects international law, India will pursue its case vigorously before the tribunal and fight for the rights of the victims, Jaitley asserted in the Lower House.

Girone was one of two Italian marines on board ship ‘Enrica Lexie’, who has been accused of killing two Indian fishermen during an anti-piracy mission in 2012 off the Kerala coast.

Since 2012, Girone hasn’t been able to leave India except for a few brief permits. The second marine, Massimiliano Latorre, is back in Italy after he suffered a stroke in 2014.

The Italian government took the marines case to international arbitration after repeated delays in the trial in India.

(With inputs from PTI)