On 2 May, the Ministry of External Affairs revealed that the UN's Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) tribunal has recommended that Rome and New Delhi should approach the Supreme Court of India for relaxation of bail conditions of Sergeant Salvatore Girone, one of the two marines facing murder charges for killing two Indian fishermen.
"In 2015, Italy sought International Arbitration under the UN convention of the law of the sea. The arbitral tribunal that was established was requested by Italy to prescribe provisional measures for the duration of the arbitration, which is expected to conclude in 2018. In its order today, the arbitral tribunal unanimously prescribed that India and Italy would approach the Supreme Court of India for relaxation of bail conditions of Girone," MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup told ANI.
"The case which began in 2012 has been contested in various courts. The two Italian Marines involved have been given bail since 2012 by the Supreme Court of India, while proceedings were on. Latorre remains on bail in Italy, while Girone also does so in New Delhi," he added.
Swarup further stated that while remaining under the authority of the Supreme Court of India, Girone may return to Italy for the duration of the present arbitration.
"The tribunal confirmed Italy's obligation to return him to India in case it was found that India had jurisdiction over him in respect of the incident. The tribunal left it to the Supreme Court to fix the precise conditions of Sergeant Girone's bail. This could include him reporting to an authority in Italy designated by our Supreme Court, surrendering his passport to Italian authorities and not leaving Italy without the permission of our Supreme Court. Italy shall apprise our Supreme Court of his situation every three months," he said.
Swarup also said that the tribunal placed on record undertakings given by Italy in regard to Sergeant Girone's return to India.
"It noted that these undertakings constitute an obligation binding upon Italy under international law. It has also confirmed that Italy is under an obligation to Sergeant Girone to India if the tribunal finds that India has jurisdiction over him," he said.
Swarup stated that the tribunal considers that provisional measures should not alter the situation where the Supreme Court of India exercises jurisdiction over Sergeant Girone, adding that the tribunal has also noted that while Girone could return to Italy, he would remain under the authority of the Supreme Court of India.
Swarup said that the Government of India is studying the order and it would, in due course approach the Supreme Court for its directions on this matter.
"We believe the government's consistent positions and key arguments in this particular case have been recognised by the tribunal. The authority of the Supreme Court of India has been upheld. We remain confident that the jurisdiction will be determined in our favour," he added.
Italy had earlier in March asked the PCA to order India to release Girone, saying the latter, otherwise, risks four more years in India without any charges being made which would amount to "grave violation of his human rights".
The Supreme Court, which was handling this case, suspended the court proceedings relating to the trial of two marines in August 2015 following an order to this effect by International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) which was approached by Italy for international arbitration.