India to abide by UN tribunal on stay in Italian marines’ case


The International Tribunal for Law of the Sea (ITLOS) has asked both India and Italy to suspend all court proceedings on the two Italian marines charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen in 2012. The UN tribunal has also asked both countries not to initiate any new litigation that could aggravate the dispute. Reacting to the decision of the tribunal, India’s Ministry of External Affairs said “it was clear that ITLOS had not considered the two provisional measures that Italy sought, as that would have pre-judged the merits of the case and would not have equally preserved the rights of both parties until the constitution of the tribunal under UN Convention for Law Of Seas that will decide the issue of jurisdiction.” India will continue to abide by the tribunal’s decisions, including the present one on provisional measures, said MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup. 

The tribunal, however, did not give any decision on Italy’s request to allow Sergeant Marine Girone to go back home. He is expected stay in India until the jurisdiction of the case is decided. This is seen as a setback for Italy. Tribunal judge Vladimir Golitsin asked the two countries to submit an initial report on the entire incident by September 24. The judge said “Italy and India shall both suspend all court proceedings and shall refrain from initiating new ones which might aggravate or extend the dispute submitted to the…arbitral tribunal or might jeopardise or prejudice the carrying out of any decision which the arbitral tribunal may render.”

“Italy and India shall each submit to the tribunal the initial report…not later than 24 September, 2015, and authorises the President, after that date, to request such information from the parties as he may consider appropriate,” noted Mr Golitsyn. The 21-member UN-mandated court issued the order with 15 in favour and six against. 

The issue was taken to the International Tribunal to decide the jurisdiction after Italy was dissatisfied with the way India handled the case and challenged its jurisdiction. The case has also impacted the ties between India and Italy and impacted the India-EU ties as well with the bilateral summit being postponed due to dissatisfaction with India’s handling of the case.

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