A European parliament delegation on Monday criticised India’s judicial system in the case of two Italian marines accused of murdering Indian fishermen more than three years ago, saying it is “a little bit too long”. Geoffrey Van Orden, president of the European parliament Delegation for relations with Italy said during a visit to New Delhi that Brussels respects India’s judicial system and the affair of the two marines “ought not to be an obstacle to bilateral “Indian European” relations but “it seems to us that the trial to which the Italian Navy fusiliers are subjected is a little bit too long”.
“Obviously we give importance in any circumstances to the conditions of our citizens in difficulty abroad,” he added, and “the case of the Italian military is one of those”. The delegation was made up of MEPs from Britain, Netherlands, Slovacchia, Slovenia and Germany.
Last Thursday the special tribunal in New Delhi tasked with examining the case of the marines who allegedly killed two Indian fishermen during an anti-piracy mission on February 15, 2012, scheduled its next hearing for July 1 to allow the Supreme Court to examine a related appeal. The decision came after the registrar of India’s top tribunal on Tuesday ordered the petition by Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone against the handling of their case by NIA anti-terrorism prosecutors to return to the court for examination.
The supreme court is expected to schedule a hearing within the next two-three weeks. The servicemen are appealing against the involvement of the NIA on grounds that it is beyond their jurisdiction after New Delhi agreed to drop the application of a severe anti-terrorism and anti-piracy law in February 2014. Italian authorities had argued that its application would have equated Italy with a terrorist state.
The date of July 1 set by the special tribunal for the resumption of proceedings also took into account the judicial recess in India from May 17 to June 30. The case of the marines has caused major diplomatic tension between the two countries, with Italy arguing that it is not in India’s jurisdiction as the incident took place outside the country’s territorial waters.
Rome also says the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India because they are servicemen who were working on an anti-piracy mission, and allowed to return home. Latorre is currently in Italy recovering from heart surgery but he is due to return to India in April.