New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday relaxed the bail conditions of Salvatore Girone, one of the two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen off Kerala coast in 2012, and allowed him to go to his country till an International Arbitral Tribunal decides the jurisdictional issue between India and Italy.
The other marine Massimiliano Latorre is already in Italy on health grounds and his stay there was recently extended by the apex court till September 30 this year.
A vacation bench of Justices P C Pant and D Y Chandrachud sought a fresh undertaking from Italian Ambassador in New Delhi stating that if the International Arbitral Tribunal (IAT) decides jurisdictional issue in India’s favour then he will be responsible in bringing back the marine within one month.
The apex court imposed four conditions on the marine which include that he has to report to police station in Italy on first Wednesday of every month and the Italian Embassy has to inform the Indian Embassy in Rome about the same. It also said the marine will not tamper with any evidence nor influence any witness in the case.
The third condition imposed was that Girone will give an undertaking that he will remain under the jurisdiction of Supreme Court.
Lastly, if found violating any of the conditions imposed, his bail will be cancelled, the apex court said.
During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Narasimha said that Centre has no objection to the application moved by Girone if he complies with the conditions imposed by the apex court.
“We support the application on humanitarian grounds subject to his compliance with the conditions imposed by the court,” the ASG said.
Girone, who presently is in the custody of the apex court and residing in Italian embassy here, had filed the application through lawyer Jagjit Singh Chhabra, also seeking a direction that Ministry of Home Affairs and the Foreigners Regional Registration Office be asked to provide him with the “necessary residential permit and exit visa”.
The marines, who were on board ship ‘Enrica Lexie’, are accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on 15 February 2012.
Italy and India have been making contrary claims over the right to prosecute the two Italian marines in the case.
Girone had also said the authorities at the Indira Gandhi International Airport including the Bureau of Immigration and the concerned CISF and other security authorities be apprised of the court’s direction that he can leave India.
The Centre had on the last hearing said the international arbitration proceedings are expected to decide the jurisdictional issue “expeditiously” and the marine can be be allowed to leave on the terms which was imposed on Lattore.
Earlier, the apex court on April 26, had extended the stay of Latorre in Italy till September 30.
The court was informed by the Centre that international arbitration proceedings in the matter would be completed by December 2018.
Solicitor General (SG) Ranjit Kumar had apprised the bench about the schedule of proceedings fixed before International Tribunal for Law of the Sea (ITLOS) in Germany.
The apex court had on January 13 asked the Centre to apprise it of the status of international arbitration proceedings in the case.
The court had earlier stayed all criminal proceedings, including the trial of the two marines.
While allowing the joint request of India and Italy, the apex court had said the proceedings would remain stalled till the jurisdictional issue about which country has the right to conduct trial was decided through international arbitration.
The apex court had on 26 August 2015 suspended all court proceedings here in pursuance of an interim order of the ITLOS asking India to maintain “status quo” in the case.
Latorre, who had suffered a brain stroke on August 31, 2014, was allowed by the apex court on September 12, 2014 to go to Italy for four months and after that, extensions have been granted to him.
The complaint against the Italian marines was lodged by Freddy, the owner of the fishing boat ‘St Antony’, in which the two Indian fishermen were killed when the marines opened fire on them allegedly under the misconception that they were pirates.