Caught in a dilemma after European Union gave a veiled warning of “carefully assessing the Italian marines’ case” and even “stopping free trade negotiations”, the Centre is unlikely to give sanction to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to prosecute them under the SUA Act that prescribes death penalty for their offense. Following a meeting between Union ministers of law, external affairs and home, sources said in most likelihood either the NIA would drop SUA provisions against the Italian marines in the court and will proceed under the Indian Penal Code or the case will be transferred back to Kerala to proceed with the relevant IPC sections.
In Brussels, the spokesperson for EU foreign affairs, Kocijancic said, “We the European Union encourage India to find as a matter of urgency a mutually satisfactory solution to this long standing case in accordance with international law and UN conventions on the law of the sea. This issue also has a bearing on the issue of global fight against piracy to which the EU is strongly committed.”
The EU Commissioner responsible for industry and entrepreneurship, Antonio Tijani, tweeted “Can we keep negotiating FTA India when death penalty is considerated against EU citizens fighting sea piracy? I think not.” To be able to take over the case of Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone on-board Enrica Lexie, accused of killing two Kerala fishermen in the Indian sea, the NIA had invoked the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (SUA Act). Under Section 3(g)(i) of the SU Act clearly states that in connection with a ship… “Whoever unlawfully and intentionally… causes death to any person shall be punished with death.”