Rome

Judge chosen for marines' trial in India

Special court guarantees no death penalty if convicted

Judge chosen for marines' trial in India

Rome, March 25 - The New Delhi High Court on Monday selected the judge who will oversee the trial of two Italian anti-piracy marines accused of murdering two fishermen in a special court where legal sources say they will not face the death penalty. Judge Amit Bansal will preside over the trial of Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone who returned to India on Friday following a two-week face-off between Rome and New Dehli caused by the marines' failure to return from Italy where they were on leave to vote. Italy had promised the men would go back after last month's election leave as they did after a Christmas break but did not honour the pledge, angering India. Over the weekend, Indian Justice Minister Ahwani Kumar said that there were no guarantees and that no deal had been made with Italy regarding the marines sentence and the omission of the death penalty. However, Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid told Rome officials that "this case would not fall in the category of matters which attract the death penalty". The two marines had been held in India since February 2012 after a shooting incident in international waters in which two Indian fishermen, Jelestine Valentine and Ajesh Binki, were killed. Italy has always denied that India has jurisdiction over the case, as it took place in international waters. Indian legal sources on Monday said that the maximum sentence applicable for the two marines is seven years.

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