New Delhi: Italian Marine Massimiliano Latorre, who along with a colleague, is accused of killing two Indian fishermen three years ago, was today allowed by the Supreme Court to remain in Italy for three more months on medical grounds.
“We grant the extension till July 15,” said a three-judge bench of justices A R Dave, Kurian Joseph and Amitava Roy, after taking on record the undertaking of Latorre that he would abide by the conditions imposed by the apex court.
The bench also asked senior advocates Soli Sorabjee and KTS Tulsi, appearing for the Italian Marine, not to delay the hearing of the petition by which the jurisdiction of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to probe the case has been challenged.
“There should be some progress in the case,” the bench said and queried about the status of trial and setting up of the special court for prosecuting the marines in the case.
On being told that the trial is stayed by the apex court on the plea of marines, the bench said, “Let the issue be decided, otherwise the sword will be hanging on their heads.”
It also asked the Supreme Court registry to list the petition of marines, also including co-accused Salvatore Girone, to be listed for hearing in the last week of April.
Tulsi said the plea challenging NIA's right to probe the deaths was filed as the Centre, in an affidavit, has said that the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (also known as SUA Act) does not apply in the case.
Latorre, who had suffered a brain stroke on August 31, last year, was allowed by the apex court on September 12 last year to go to Italy for four months.
The apex court had also taken on record an “unequivocal” and “unambiguous” undertaking by Latorre regarding the dates of departure and arrival back to India.
The apex court had also taken on record the undertaking furnished by the Italian Ambassador on behalf of the Republic of Italy that the ailing marine would abide by all terms and conditions set for his travel to his native country.
The case against marines pertains to the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by Latorre and Girone on board ship ‘Enrica Lexie' off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.
The apex court, on January 14, extended Latorre's stay in Italy by three more months after he underwent a heart surgery.
The marines' plea was referred to this court by a bench headed CJI H L Dattu saying it was not proper for it to take up the application of the marine, seeking extension of stay on health grounds, as it had earlier expressed some reservations and made certain observations on a similar plea.
The complaint was lodged by Freddy, the owner of the fishing boat ‘St Antony', in which the two Indian fishermen were killed when the marines started firing on them allegedly under the misconception that they were pirates.