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:
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 50th MEETING, 10 JULY 2013.
On 10 July 2013, the President of the Council of the Ministers, Mr Enrico Letta, reported before the Chamber of Deputies on recent developments concerning the trial taking place before Indian authorities against sergeant major Latorre and sergeant Girone, two Italian marines part of a Vessel Protection Detachment (VPD) on board of the Italian oil-tanker Enrica Lexie accused of murdering two Indian fishermen while carrying out anti-piracy activities. Mr Letta referred to the testimony given by Latorre and Girone to the Indian judicial authorities on that same date and stated:
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 5th MEETING, 27 MARCH 2013.
Following the resignation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant’Agata (whose statement before the Chamber of Deputies can be read here), the Italian President of the Council of Ministers, Senator Mario Monti, was asked to report at the Parliament on the Mr. Terzi’s resignation, as well as more broadly on the recent developments of the ongoing dispute between Italy and India. The dispute broke out after the arrest by Indian authorities of Sergeant Major Massimiliano Latorre and Sergeant Salvatore Girone, two italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen while embarked aboard the Italian-flagged oil-tanker Enrica Lexie in order to carry out anti-piracy activities.
Here follow some excerpts from Mario Monti’s statement before the Chamber of Deputies.
CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, XVII LEGISLATURE, 4th MEETING, 26 MARCH 2013 – URGENT INFORMATION ON THE RECENT DEVELOPMENTS OF THE CASE OF THE TWO ITALIAN MARINES UNDER CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS IN INDIA.
On 26 March 2013, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant’Agata, declared in a speech before the Chamber of Deputies his intention to resign, in protest of the Italian Government’s decision to return to India Sergeant Major Massimiliano Latorre and Sergeant Salvatore Girone, the two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen while embarked aboard the Italian-flagged oil-tanker Enrica Lexie in order to carry out anti-piracy activities.
On 26 September 2012, the President of the Council of Ministers, Mario Monti, intervened at the 67th Session of the U.N. General Assembly. Mr. Monti addressed, inter alia, the issue of piracy, which has important implications for Italy in light of the Enrica Lexie case and the ongoing controversy with India. After observing that piracy “is particularly troubling for its impact on the world economy and on the lives of seafarers”, Mr. Monti stated: