New Delhi | The Supreme Court today refused the pleas of murder accused Italian marine Massimiliano Latorre seeking extension of his stay in Italy on health grounds and his fellow marine the permission to travel there for Christmas, saying they cannot get such a leeway. Latorre, who was allowed by the apex court to go to Italy on September 12 for four months for medical treatment and recovery after he suffered stroke here on August 31, had sought extension of his stay, saying his heart surgery is scheduled on January 8, next year.
Co-accused Marine Salvatore Girone had sought the apex court’s nod to go to Italy for celebrating Christmas. Please ask him (Latorre) to come back. He has to come back. We cannot say that he should undergo surgery here. By now he should have got the surgery done. One more medical certificate, one more heart surgery… Victim also has a right. You can not get the leeway. It can’t happen like that, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said.
Even trial has not commenced. Charges have not been framed. The charge sheet has not been filed. Can a charge sheet be filed in the absence of accused? It doesn’t happen anywhere in the world. We are sorry, the bench, also comprising justices Madan B Lokur and A K Sikri, said. The Italian marines, represented by senior advocates Soli Sorabjee and KTS Tulsi, withdrew their separate pleas. On being told that even the Centre has no objection if Latorre’s stay in Italy is extended on humanitarian ground, the bench said, The Solicitor (additional solicitor general) may not object but we want the system to work.
During the hearing, Sorabjee submitted that the heart surgery of one of the marines is scheduled on January 8 and he be allowed to stay there for two more months and no prejudice will be caused to anybody as the investigation is not over and the charge sheet is yet to be filed. We have also challenged the jurisdiction of Indian courts, he added.
Indian courts have the jurisdiction unless we decide otherwise. We do not even allow a person to go out during the trial. You went in the month of September. Let us respect the Indian system also, the bench said. The case against marines pertains to the killing of two Indian fishermen allegedly by Latorre and Girone on board ship ‘Enrica Lexie’ off Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.
During the hearing, the bench said that a special court was constituted to fast track the trial but the judicial proceedings are stuck up. We will not say anything more. Let him come. Let charge sheet be filed. We are not going to entertain his plea. The offence pertains to section 302 (murder) of the IPC. It is a heinous offence.
Even the investigation is not completed. Let the system work, it said. Earlier on September 12, the apex court had allowed Lattore to travel to his country for medical treatment after the Centre had said that in principle it has no objection to the plea. Latorre had sought permission from the court to go to Italy for his more rapid and complete recovery after he had suffered brain stroke on August 31.
The complaint was lodged by Freddy, who is the owner of the fishing boat ‘St Antony’, in which two Indian fishermen were killed when the marines started firing on them allegedly under the misconception that they were pirates.
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