Enrica Lexie case: Italy cites UN tribunal ruling, seeks Italian marine's release; India differs

The government said on Monday that Italy was misrepresenting the UN arbitration tribunal order in the Italian marine case.

Enrica Lexie case: Italy cites UN tribunal ruling, seeks Italian marine's release; India differs
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Delhi: Indian government said on Monday that the UN tribunal had left it to the Supreme Court to fix the precise conditions of Italian marine​ Salvatore​ Girone's bail.

Government also noted that while the marine may return to Italy during the present arbitration, he would remain under the authority of India's apex court.

Following is the statement by official spokesperson of MEA on the order by the Arbitral Tribunal in the Enrica Lexie incident:

As you are all aware, the Arbitral Tribunal in the arbitration concerning the Enrica Lexie incident gave its order today. This case, which began in 2012, has been contested in various courts. The two Italian Marines involved have been given bail since 2012 by the Supreme Court of India while proceedings were on. Sergeant Latorre remains on bail in Italy while Sergeant Girone also does so in New Delhi. In 2015, Italy sought international arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Arbitral Tribunal that was established was requested by Italy to prescribe provisional measures for the duration of the arbitration which is expected to conclude in 2018.

In its order today, the Arbitral Tribunal unanimously prescribed that India and Italy would approach the Supreme Court of India for relaxation of bail conditions of Sergeant Girone. While remaining under the authority of the Supreme Court of India, he may return to Italy for the duration of the present arbitration. The Tribunal confirmed Italy’s obligation to return him to India in case it was found that India had jurisdiction over him in respect of the incident.

The Tribunal left it to the Supreme Court of India to fix the precise conditions of Sergeant Girone’s bail. This could include him reporting to an authority in Italy designated by our Supreme Court, surrendering his passport to Italian authorities and not leaving Italy without the permission of our Supreme Court. Italy shall apprise our Supreme Court of his situation every three months.

Let me also emphasise that the Tribunal placed on record undertakings given by Italy in regard to Sergeant Girone’s return to India. It noted that these undertakings constitute an obligation binding upon Italy under international law. It has also confirmed that Italy is under an obligation to return Sergeant Girone to India if the Tribunal finds that India has jurisdiction over him.

The Tribunal considers that provisional measures should not alter the situation where the Supreme Court of India exercises jurisdiction over Sergeant Girone. It has also noted that while Sergeant Girone may return to Italy during the present arbitration, during all this period, he would remain under the authority of the Supreme Court of India.

Government is studying the order which was received today. It would, in due course, approach the Hon’ble Supreme Court for its directions on this matter. We believe that Government’s consistent positions and key arguments in this particular case have been recognised by the Tribunal. The authority of the Supreme Court has been upheld. We remain confident that the issue of jurisdiction will be determined in our favour.

India's reaction was to a UN arbitration tribunal that has ruled in favour of Italian marine, held in India on murder charges, by allowing him to return home pending the arbitration proceedings at the Hague.

Two Italian marines - Massimiliano Latorre and Girone on board ship 'Enrica Lexie' - are facing charges of murdering two Indian fishermen in 2012 off the Kerala coast.

Latorre is back in Italy after a stroke in 2014 while Girone is staying in Italian embassy here.

Reports from Rome said the UN tribunal court has ruled that pending arbitration proceedings, Girone may be permitted to return home.

"Foreign Ministry informs that the arbitral tribunal set up in The Hague has anticipated today its decision that Girone Rifleman (be allowed to go) back in Italy until the end of the arbitration proceedings, initiated by the Government on June 26, 2015. The return of the conditions will be agreed between Italy and India," the Italian ministry said.

However, the tribunal's order is expected to be made public tomorrow.

Italy in March had asked the PCA judges to order India to release its detained marine Girone, saying otherwise he risks four more years in India without any charges being made which would amount to "grave violation of his human rights".

The PCA is hearing oral arguments by the two sides.

The arbitration "could last at least three or four years" which means that Girone risks "being held in Delhi, without any charges being made, for a total of seven-eight years", Italy's representative had told the court.

Girone has not been able to leave India, aside from a few brief permits, since the incident.

(With Agency inputs)

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