Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Saturday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging that the government make earnest efforts to put international pressure on Italy to provide the Indian side a fair trial in the Italian marines case, The Indian Express reported. The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands had ruled on May 21 that while India is entitled to compensation from Italy for the marines’ killing of two Indian fishermen in 2012, they cannot be tried in an Indian court.

Following this, on July 2, the Centre filed an application in the Supreme Court of India to withdraw the case against Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre – the two marines. However, Vijayan strongly opposed this move, and said he would inform the Centre about it.

On Saturday, Vijayan called it “shocking” that the marines cannot be tried in India. He said the Indian government should have handled the matter with more caution and sensitivity from the beginning. “If the award of the Arbitral Tribunal is not appealable as stated by the Central Government in the affidavit filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court, Government of India should take earnest efforts to build international pressure for a fair trial in Italy,” the chief minister added.

Vijayan also said India must attempt to secure the most compensation possible. The Permanent Court of Arbitration had said that India and Italy should negotiate to decide the amount of the compensation. “We should also keep our option of approaching the ITLOS [International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea] within the stipulated time of one year if getting adequate compensation is not possible through negotiations,” Vijayan wrote.

The Kerala chief minister requested Modi’s intervention to ensure that justice was provided to the two deceased fishermen.

The case

The Italian marines Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre had claimed innocence following the shooting, claiming that they thought the fishermen were pirates in international waters. The Supreme Court had allowed the repatriation of Latorre due to a heart attack he faced in 2014. In 2016, the court permitted Girone to return home.

India and Italy had taken the case to the international court in 2015. The main bone of contention between the two countries was Italy’s assertion that India cannot try the marines, as the crime was committed outside Indian territorial waters. India has rejected the claim of the shooting taking place in international waters.

The international court also said in its May 21 ruling that Italy cannot seek compensation for the detention of the marines in India. As India is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the judgement is binding upon it, and it cannot appeal the verdict.