New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India ruled on Friday that the case of two Italian marines accused of murdering Indian fishermen while guarding an oil tanker should be transferred to a special court in New Delhi.
The marines are suspected of shooting dead two fishermen off India’s southwestern coast near Kochi in February 2012, when a fishing boat came close to the Italian oil tanker they were guarding.
The case has caused diplomatic tensions between India and Italy, which has argued that the Indian courts have no jurisdiction to try the marines because the incident took place in international waters.
The Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the case should be transferred from a local court in Kerala to a new “special court” in New Delhi which would examine Italy’s contention.
“The case is transferred to a special court. The state of Kerala has no jurisdiction,” said a ruling from a two-judge bench comprising chief justice Altamas Kabir and Jasti Chelameswar.
The marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, were granted special permission to return home to Italy for Christmas but have since returned to India.
Armed guards are increasingly deployed on cargo ships and tankers in the Indian Ocean to tackle the threat posed by Somali pirates, who often hold ships and crews hostage for months demanding multi-million-dollar ransoms.