Despite MEA stand, Italian marines slapped with anti-terror act

Despite MEA stand, Italian marines slapped with anti-terror act

Brushing aside the External Affairs Ministry’s (MEA) reservations, the Union Home Ministry has given sanction to prosecute two Italian marines in the killing of two fishermen under a law that entails death penalty but the Centre on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it was trying to resolve the dispute with Italy.

A bench of Justices B S Chauhan and J Chelameswar appreciated the plea made by Attorney General G E Vahanvati and asked him to make “bona fide attempts” to resolve the issue.

“The problem is with regard to invoking of anti-terrorism law SUA (Suppression of Unlawful Acts against safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf) Act.

The Law Ministry is looking into it,” Vahanvati said. The country’s top law officer also informed the court that the matter was getting delayed as witnesses were not willing to come here to record their statements.

He also told the court that the government was trying to resolve the problem. “If you are trying to solve the problem without the intervention of the court, there is no problem. But there should be a bona fide attempt,” the bench told the AG.

The Italy government had challenged invoking of anti-terrorism law SUA, which carried death penalty, on the ground that the decision went against the order of the apex court which allowed proceedings only under the Maritime Zone Act, IPC, Criminal Procedure Code and UNCLOS. The Union Home Ministry had on January 17 issued the notification, giving its nod to the probe agency to invoke charges under the SUA.

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