New Delhi

Hearing postponed for Italian marines in India

Court considering investigating agency shift

Hearing postponed for Italian marines in India

New Delhi, April 22 - The Supreme Court hearing for two Italian marines facing trial in India was postponed from Monday to Thursday, sources told ANSA on Monday. The marines' defense lawyers explained that the judges must make the delicate and complex decision of whether the investigation should be handled by the anti-terrorism National Investigation Agency (NIA) or the criminal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a decision that could decide whether the marines face a possible death sentence if convicted. On April 16, Italy presented an affidavit challenging a court decision to assign the case to the NIA, which placed the investigation under a severe 2002 law designed to fight terrorism in international waters. The 2002 anti-terrorism law calls for capital punishment in the case of conviction for homicide. Italian anti-pirate marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are in India on charges of shooting and killing fishermen Valentine (aka Gelastine) and Ajesh Binki after allegedly mistaking them for pirates while guarding a mercantile ship off the Kerala coast in February 2012. After a drawn-out diplomatic row, Italy agreed to hand the men over to Indian authorities last month despite contesting India's right to jurisdiction, given the incident took place in international waters. While there have been signs of improvements in recent weeks, relations between the two countries have frayed over the past year, prompting Italy to request independent third-party arbitration in the tangled affair. Italian ambassador to India, Daniele Mancini, was present in court for the marines on Monday.

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