On Monday morning, the Indian Attorney General asked the Supreme Court that the two Italian Marines not be tried on the basis of the SUA Act (anti-piracy/terrorism law), but that the charge against them, in any case, be formulated by the police anti-terrorism unit (NIA). The defence objected to this latest request and the judge set a hearing date two weeks on. Immediately following the decision, Premier Renzi held a meeting with foreign minister Mogherini, defence minister Roberta Pinotti and government special envoy Staffan De Mistura.
India: no Sua Act, but process continues with NIA anti-terrorism policy
On Monday, Indian Attorney General G. E. Vahanvati presented the government’s opinion in favour of not applying the SUA Act in the case of the two Italian Marines Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre. The prosecution initially requested of the Indian Supreme Court that the law be applied for the crime of violence, which calls for a maximum sentence of 10 years (in some cases the SUA Act can even result in the death penalty). That request raised firm protests from Italy, the EU and NATO, which opposed the idea of two military servicemen engaged on a mission being tried for terrorism. In the face of these protests, the Indian government decided to review the use of the SUA Act. At the Supreme Court hearing of 18 February, the Attorney General requested and was granted a deferment while awaiting the government’s opinion.
Prosecution-defence clash over the NIA, Supreme Court defers trial 2 weeks
On Monday, Vahanvati submitted the opinion of the justice ministry that ruled out application of the SUA Act in the case of the marines to Judge B.S. Chauhan. The document, however, states that the charges would be presented by the police anti-terrorism unit (NIA), which carried out the investigation. Defence attorney Mukul Rohatgi objected that “it is impossible to use the NIA in the absence of the SUA Act”. The judge then asked all the parties to formulate their positions, setting a two-week deadline. The question will be discussed by a Court tribunal composed of three judges.
Defence: ruling out of SUA Act is a first step
After the Supreme Court hearing, attorney for the defence Rohatgi underscored the positive side to the anti-terrorism law’s being ruled out. “With the elimination of the SUA Act, he said, we have made a first step forward. Now we will present our objections to the use of the NIA”.
Prosecution: we will explain why the NIA can be used
“We will explain why the NIA (anti-terrorism police) can be used even in the absence of the SUA Act, prosecutor G.E. Vahanvati said at the end of the hearing. We communicated the ruling out of the SUA Act, but the defence does not accept the charges being presented by the NIA and will respond. But we will also have our say”.
Renzi meets with Mogherini, Pinotti, De Mistura Meeting
Immediately following the Indian Supreme Court hearing, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi held an emergency meeting With foreign minister Federica Mogherini, defence minister Roberta Pinotti and the government’s special envoy for the case Staffan De Mistura.