The central government Wednesday opposed a plea seeking suspension of the trial of two Italian Marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen after allegedly mistaking them as pirates off Kerala coast Feb 5.
Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, appearing for the government, told the apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar that the petitioner Italian government and its two Marines could move the Kerala High Court, which has already suspended the trial court proceedings.
Senior counsel Harish Salve, appearing for the petitioners, told the court that the stay granted by the high court was only till Thursday.
Jaising said that the high court could be moved again for seeking the extension of the stay.
The high court put on hold the trial court proceedings as two Marines had sought the Italian translations of all the documents being relied upon by the prosecution in their trial.
Salve told the court that the trial court, while declining their prayer for making available the translated copies of the case records, had said that the apex court in a few cases had described it as a mere irregularity.
Jaising opposed the plea for the quashing of the first information report (FIR) against the Marines.
Justice Kabir observed that "we are not concerned with the FIR but the observation made by the court of law describing it (shooting of two fishermen) as a brutal murder".
The Kerala high court by its May 29 order, while clearing the decks for the trial of the two Marines, described the killing of the two fishermen as "brutal murder".
"There is nothing on record to show that the Italian Marines were allowed absolute freedom to shoot and kill any person, even in cases of piracy attacks," said the high court.
Jaising sought four weeks' time to go through the documents filed by the petitioners but the apex court directed the listing of the matter for Aug 16.
Chief Master Sergeant Massimilano Latorre and Sergeant Salvatore had shot dead two Indian fishermen Feb 15, allegedly suspecting them to be pirates.
The Italian government and its two Marines in their petition contended that "the fundamental error in the impugned judgment is that since the alleged act was committed and consummated outside the territory of India, Indian courts would not have jurisdiction, which crucial fact was overlooked".