Special Court For Italian Marines

India told Italy on Tuesday preparations to set up a special court to try two Italian marines facing murder charges over the deaths of two fishermen were at “an advanced stage”, official sources said

India close to setting up court to try Italian marines

India told Italy on Tuesday preparations to set up a special court to try two Italian marines facing murder charges over the deaths of two fishermen were at “an advanced stage”, official sources said.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave the reassurance to his Italian counterpart Mario Monti who had called him for an update on plans for the trial of the two marines, Massimiliano Lattorre and Salvatore Girone, the sources said.

“Prime Minister Singh received a telephone call this evening from the Italian prime minister. During the course of the call, the issue of the Italian marines in India was discussed,” a source said.

Singh told Monti the process of setting up the special court was “at a fairly advanced stage”, and more details would be known next week when India’s Supreme Court is due to hold a hearing into the matter, the sources said.

India’s attorney-general is due to report back to the Supreme Court on April 16 on the setting up of the special court in New Delhi to try the marines, who face murder charges over the killing of two fishermen in February last year.

Italy’s government has been worried that the trial of the two men would get bogged down in India’s slow legal system.

The two marines returned for trial last month after Rome initially refused to send them back, triggering a bitter diplomatic stand-off between India and Italy.

The marines were guarding an Italian oil tanker when they opened fire on a fishing boat, killing two fishermen. They say they mistook the fishing boat for a pirate vessel.

Italy has insisted the pair should be prosecuted in their home country because the shootings involved an Italian-flagged vessel in international waters. India says the killings took place in waters under its jurisdiction.

The National Investigation Agency, tasked with upholding Indian maritime law, has booked the men under preliminary charges of murder and attempted murder.

India, which uses the death penalty in what it says are the “rarest of rare cases”, has already assured Italy that the two men will not face execution.

During the conversation with Monti, Singh voiced “appreciation” for Rome’s decision to return the men “to enable the judicial process to move forward”, the source said.

The return of the two marines has caused huge controversy in Rome and prompted Italy’s foreign minister Giulio Terzi to resign in protest.

Source: News Republic

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