The two Italian marines accused of killing two Kerala fishermen in February 2012 are likely to face trial under charges that provide for only the death penalty.
Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, law minister Kapil Sibal and external affairs minister Salman Khurshid met on Thursday to thrash out an agreement on the issue.
“An agreement has been reached to give the NIA (National Investigation Agency) the go-ahead for filing charges under section 3 of the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002 (SUA),” said a senior government official, requesting anonymity.
After completing its probe in the case, the NIA invoked the law’s section 3, which states that any act causing the death of any person shall be punished with the death sentence. But since an executive assurance had been given by the external affairs ministry to the Italian government about not awarding the death penalty to them, the matter remained pending for more than a month.
The sanction to prosecute the two marines is likely to be given to the NIA anytime now, HT has learnt.
The two marines — Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre — were part of the six-member naval team onboard the MT Enrica Lexie to deal with pirates. They are accused of killing two Indian fishermen — Ajesh Binki and Jelestine — off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.
They are now staying in the Italian embassy in the capital, awaiting trial.
The NIA has concluded in its probe that the marines had not issued any warning on loudspeaker or fired warning shots before shooting the two fishermen.
Initially the Kerala police were investigating the case but later it was handed over the NIA on the directions of the Supreme Court.