India and Italy should halt marines trial proceedings, says tribunal

File pic of Massimiliano Latorre (L) and Salvatore Girone (Dec 2012) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Massimiliano Latorre (L) and Salvatore Girone were first held on suspicion of murder in February 2012

A UN-linked tribunal has ordered a halt to all legal proceedings in the case of two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012.

The International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea called for India to suspend its court case against the two marines, pending international arbitration.

It also rejected Italy's request for the marines to be freed while they await the final ruling.

The case has led to a bitter diplomatic row between Delhi and Rome.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone face murder charges and are on bail awaiting trial.

Mr Girone is currently staying in the Italian embassy in Delhi, while India's Supreme Court has allowed Mr Latorre to temporarily return in Italy on health grounds.

The marines were guarding an Italian oil tanker when they opened fire, killing two men off the Kerala coast in South India. The marines said they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

Italy says that as the shooting took place in international waters, the men should be tried in Italy.

However, India wants the men tried in an Indian court. It has ruled out the possibility of the death penalty.

The tribunal said that in addition to halting all current court proceedings, both countries should "refrain from initiating new ones which might aggravate or extend the dispute".

Both sides should submit a report to the tribunal by 24 September ahead of hearings, it added.

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