Italian Marines Case: SC agrees to hear Bail Petition of Sergeant Major Salvatore Girone

Italian Marines Case: SC agrees to hear Bail Petition of Sergeant Major Salvatore Girone

The Supreme Court on Monday reportedly agreed to hear the Bail Petition of Sergeant Major Salvatore Girone, one of the two Italian Marines accused of murdering Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012. The Apex Court is scheduled to hear the case on May 26, the Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.

A vacation bench comprising Justice Prafulla C. Pant and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud agreed to hear the petition after Additional Solicitor General Pinki Anand supported the plea put forth by the Italian Government. The matter will now be heard on Thursday.

The relaxation was demanded in wake of the April 29 order of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), urging India and Italy to cooperate in relaxing the bail conditions so that Girone could return to his country during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings before it. Italy had also accepted that Girone would remain under the jurisdiction of the Courts in India, if he is allowed to return to Italy.

The two marines were part of the team escorting the Italian-flagged oil tanker Enrica Lexie. They had been arrested and prosecuted for opening fire on fishermen they mistook to be pirates with automatic weapons in 2012.

The second marine, Massimiliano Latorre was granted a period of leave in Italy for medical treatment after he suffered a stroke while in New Delhi in 2014. He was granted permission by the Supreme Court and the permission was extended for 6 months on July 13, 2015. His stay there has further been extended by the Supreme Court till September 30. Girone was also on bail, but has been directed by Supreme Court not to leave Delhi. He is staying at the Italian embassy.

The arrest of the two marines has damaged wider relations, contributing to the collapse of a European Union-India summit planned during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France and Germany last year. In April 2012, Rome paid $190,000 to each of the victims’ families as compensation. In return, the families dropped their cases against the marines, but the state’s case has yet to come to trial.

In August last year, India had rebuffed Italy’s offer to pay 600,000 Euros, roughly Rs. 4.4 crore, to secure protection from any legal action against the two Italian marines. India had told Italy that “murders are not compensable offences”. You may read the LiveLaw story here.

You may read a summary of the proceedings before ITLOS, here and here.