Enrica Lexie Incident: Firing by Italian Marines a Terrorist Act? Italy Accepts Indian Courts’ Jurisdiction?

Following up on our discussion of the Enrica Lexie incident off the coast of Kerala, here’s an update on the latest developments:

1. As noted earlier, the detained Italian marines as well as the Italian consulate had filed a  petition in the Kerala High Court for declaration that Indian courts did not have jurisdiction to try the Italian marines. The oral arguments in the matter are now over and the court has reserved its judgment. An indication of the Court’s mindset, however, can be gauged from its classification of the shooting by the Italian marines as an act of terrorism. From the jurisdictional perspective, this is very interesting because the Court has previously observed in another case (Raymund Gencianeo v.State of Kerala, 2004 Cri. LJ 2296, para. 6) that Indian courts have jurisdiction over criminal offences committed by foreigners only in India’s territorial waters. If, however, the act is treated as a terrorist act, instead of just a criminal act, it could be possible for Indian courts to exercise universal jurisdiction, irrespective of where the alleged crime occurred. (See this, for further discussion)

2. Italy, on the other hand, appears to have accepted Indian courts’ jurisdiction over the above incident. This detail emerged at a meeting between the Indian and Italian prime ministers on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul on 26 March 2012.

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2 thoughts on “Enrica Lexie Incident: Firing by Italian Marines a Terrorist Act? Italy Accepts Indian Courts’ Jurisdiction?

  1. Can’t you realise that this is a stalemate between two court bodies each under political pressure and reluctant to rule?
    Judge Gopakumar’s magistrate court is dragging it feet pending a decision on jurisdiction.
    The police are delaying the ballistic test report because the bullets are not the same as recovered from the bodies (no evidence).
    The Kerala High Court also keeps postponing a decision on whether the jurisdiction be Italian or Indian.
    Any reasonable person in his proper senses cannot but smell the rot …..
    Don’t you see how India’s reputation is being ridiculed by this shirking of responsibility between your police and judiciary?
    Only if jurisdiction is assigned to Italy the police’s massive blunder of mistaken ship identity will not be revealed.
    On the other hand the High Court would like Mr Gopakumar to carry out his job and rule clearly whether the Italian Marines’ bullets correspond to those found in the fishermen’s bodies and so avoid giving Italy the jurisdiction.
    Either way the Kerala fishermen will revolt and make their politicians pay, starting with CM Chandy.
    The Centre at Delhi is also wary for political reasons and Italy cannot start a war for two soldiers. In the middle of this mess are the poor fishermen’s families and our Marines who never get the chance of a fair hearing.
    Kerala is handling this incident in the worst possible way thereby shaming the whole of India.
    If I were the Italian Prime Minister I would suspend diplomatic relations, send home the Indian ambassador and declare Switzerland as caretaker.
    Mariella

  2. Pingback: Back from Break, with a Summer Update! | International Law Curry

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