Italian marines not to face death penalty

Italian marines not to face death penalty

The Union Home Ministry on Friday took a U-turn on the Italian marines issue, asking the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to dilute charges from murder to violence so that they will not be tried under a provision that entails death penalty only.

The move comes three days ahead of a Supreme Court hearing on a petition by Italy, which sought to quash proceedings against the marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast, after India invoked provisions of death penalty against them.

The revision in stand came three weeks after the Home Ministry gave sanction to the NIA to prosecute the marines under SUA (Suppression of Unlawful Acts against safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf) Act. The Ministry has now given sanction to the NIA to prosecute the marines under the new provision of the SUA.

The new provision says whoever unlawfully and intentionally commits an act of violence against a person on board a fixed platform or a ship which is likely to endanger the safety of the fixed platform or, as the case may be, safe navigation of the ship shall be punished with imprisonment up to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine.

Brushing aside the External Affairs Ministry’s reservations earlier, the Home Ministry had sanctioned this case under Section 3 (G) (i) of the SUA, which says anyone causing death to any person shall be punished with death.

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