statesman news service
New Delhi, 7 February
The two Italian marines, who allegedly killed two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast, will not be tried under maritime laws that attract the death penalty.
The Union Home Ministry today asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to dilute the charges against the two accused marines from murder to violence, sparing them from the possibility of getting death penalty.
Revising its earlier decision, the Home Ministry gave sanction to the NIA to prosecute the marines under the new provision of the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation And Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (SUA). The provision [3.1.(a)] says whoever unlawfully and intentionally commits an act of violence against a person on board a fixed platform or a ship which is likely to endanger the safety or safe navigation of the platform or ship shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine.
Earlier, the Home Ministry had sanctioned this case under Section 3 (G) (i) of SUA which says anyone causing death to any person shall be punished with death.
The decision, sources said, will be conveyed to the Supreme Court on Monday as promised by the government. The decision is expected to be a relief to the Italian government which has been opposing the decision of slapping the two marines with the stringent provision which invites death of the accused if proved guilty.
The NIA has sought sanction to prosecute the two marines ~ Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone ~ under SUA.
The marines, who were deployed on board the Italian vessel Enrica Lexie  on anti-piracy duties and are now lodged in New Delhi’s Italian Embassy premises, allegedly shot dead the two fishermen on 15 February, 2012 off the Kerala coast.