Category Archives: Immunity of State officials

Italy’s Initiatives in the Enrica Lexie Case Following the Order of ITLOS to Suspend National Court Proceedings Pending Arbitration

In the course of 2016, the controversy of Italy with India, widely known as the Enrica Lexie case, was an important subject of discussion and debate in the Parliament. The events triggering the dispute date back to 15 February 2012, when two Indian fishermen were killed off the western coast of India, after a shooting incident involving Italian marines on-board the Italian-flagged oil tanker Enrica Lexie.

The subsequent arrest by Indian authorities of two Italian marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, sparked a controversy between the two countries; after unsuccessful attempts to settle the case through diplomatic means, on 26 June 2015 Italy decided to submit the dispute to international arbitration pursuant to Annex VII of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Additionally, Italy sought provisional measures before the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, which ordered the suspension of all court proceedings against the two Italian marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, pending a decision on the issue of jurisdiction by the Arbitral Tribunal (The “Enrica Lexie” Incident (Italy v. India), Provisional Measures, ITLOS, Order of 24 August 2015). On 13 January 2016, the Indian Supreme Court was convened to discuss the situation of one of the two marines, Massimiliano Latorre, who had been allowed to repatriate to Italy for medical reasons.

The initiatives adopted by Italy in the case, including the position expressed before the Indian Supreme Court, were illustrated by members of the Government in particular in the two occasions detailed below:

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The Undersecretary of State for Defence on immunity from criminal jurisdiction for the Italian military personnel deployed in Iraq

On 12 December 2014, the Undersecretary of State for Defence, Mr Domenico Rossi, in response to a parliamentary question, clarified the Italian position on the issue of the status of Italian military personnel deployed in Iraq with the task of training Iraqi security forces. In particular, Mr Rossi addressed the issue of immunity of the said personnel from Iraqi criminal jurisdiction, resulting from an exchange of diplomatic notes between the two Governments to that effect, based on the provisions of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, and stressed its binding force and applicability to the entire territory of Iraq, including the autonomous region of Kurdistan. He stated:

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