India and Italy on Monday clashed on the wording and interpretation of the United Nations Arbitration Tribunal’s (UNAT) interim order over the case of two Italian marines–Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone –facing charges of murdering two fishermen in 2012 off the Kerala coast.The Italian foreign ministry said that the arbitration court has ruled that India should allow one of the marines to return home, who, though on bail, is barred from leaving India for more than four years. But India called it ‘misrepresenting’ the order, which, in fact, has actually affirmed the Supreme Court’s (SC) authority over the matter.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Italy’s victory is that the tribunal has suggested that Girone may return to Italy for the duration of the present arbitration, which may take time for final adjudication. The tribunal, however, confirmed Italy’s obligation to return him to India in case it was found that India had jurisdiction over him.Government sources privy to the UN court order said that it has only recommended further relaxation of bail conditions of Girone to be considered and decided upon by the Supreme Court.The tribunal unanimously prescribed that India and Italy should together approach the SC for relaxation of bail conditions.The case, which has been echoing in Kerala’s politics over the past many years, attains considerable significance, in the wake of ongoing Assembly elections. The tribunal order also comes close on the heels of allegations that Prime Minister Modi had asked his Italian counterpart Matteo Renzi to fix Congress president Sonia Gandhi in exchange for releasing the marines.The government has, however, stoutly denied the charges. The Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday even moved a privilege motion against leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, for making these remarks. Latorre is back in Italy after a stroke in 2014 while Girone is staying in the Italian embassy in New Delhi.Government sources are satisfied that the tribunal has recognised the SC’s jurisdiction over the Italian marine. “The order therefore asks India and Italy to approach the Supreme Court of India for relaxation of bail conditions of one marine (Girone) under strict conditions to be laid down by the Indian Supreme Court,” they added.The tribunal has suggested that Italy shall ensure that Girone reports to an authority in Italy designated by the Supreme Court of India in intervals to be determined by the apex court. Also, he shall surrender his passport to Italian authorities, which shall bar him from leaving the country. Also, Italy shall, on its own motion, apprise the Supreme Court of India of the situation of Girone every three months.While deposing before the tribunal, the Italian lawyer had accepted that if Girone is allowed by the Indian court to return, “he will remain under the jurisdiction of the courts of India”…”without prejudice to the authority of India’s courts”.The order further asks Rome to satisfy India unequivocally and with legally binding effect that Girone will return to India in case the tribunal finds that India has jurisdiction over him. The tribunal is currently adjudicating only on the limited question of whether India or Italy has the jurisdiction to try the two marines for killing two Indian fishermen. The arbitration ‘could last at least three or four years’, which means that Girone risks ‘being held in (New) Delhi, without any charges being made, for a total of seven-eight years,’ Italy’s representative had told the court.The case pertains to MV Enrica Lexie, an Italian commercial vessel sailing from Sri Lanka towards Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, came across Indian fishing vessel MV St. Antony, on February 15, 2012.The Indian boat was at a distance of about 20.5 nautical miles from the coast off Kerala. The marines, who were hired by Erica Lexieto to protect the ship from pirates, opened fire, killing two fishermen. The marines challenged their arrest before the Kerala High Court, claiming that Indian authorities had acted without jurisdiction, which was rejected. The two marines moved the SC, seeking a declaration that all actions by Indian authorities were illegal. The SC ordered the setting up of a special court in Delhi to try the case. In 2013, the SC granted permission for Latorre to proceed to Italy for medical treatment.In 2015, Italy sought international arbitration under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Italy requested the tribunal that was established to prescribe provisional measures for the duration of the arbitration, expected to conclude in 2018.Meanwhile, Italian premier Matteo Renzi has sent a message of ‘friendship and cooperation to the great people of India and to the Indian prime minister (Narendra Modi)’ after the news that marine Salvatore Girone is to return to Italy. “We are always ready to cooperate,” Renzi added in Florence, as per ANSA.

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India, Italy claim victory over UN tribunal order on marines