This morning India woke up to the news that Italy had shown the middle finger to India as well as the international legal fraternity in connection with the case of Italian marines’ shooting of two Indian fishermen in the Arabian sea last February. Italy’s Foreign Ministry on Monday said that the two marines accused of shooting dead the two Indian fishermen would not be sent back to India as India’s decision to try the accused marines in India violated the two accused’s rights, particularly on the principle of immunity for foreign state actors.
Earlier on Feb 22, the Supreme Court of India had permitted the two Italian anti piracy marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen off India’s coast after mistaking them for pirates, to go back to Italy for four weeks to vote in that country’s elections and meet their families.
While debate rages on if Italy has violated the reciprocal spirit of international justice, there are important questions that need to be asked regarding the accused’s intentions when they applied to the Supreme Court on Feb 22 to go home to vote in Italy’s general elections on 24-25 February. As per Economic Times, their application said that if they were permitted to travel to Italy, they would be able to “exercise their right to vote in their home town” for the general elections that would take place Feb 24-25.”
But the real reason might be something other than what was stated in their application. A close study of the notification for Italy’s general elections for citizens living abroad reveals the following two points that must be noted regarding the two options the marines had in order to vote in Italy’s elections:
“Voters living abroad and certain specific categories of Italian nationals temporarily abroad for reasons of service or international missions can vote by post in these elections.”
“Italian citizens wishing to vote in Italy must inform their consulate in writing. The notification MUST REACH THE CONSULATE no later than 3 JANUARY 2013 (10th day following the day the election was called).”
Given the two points as regards their two options (vote by post or vote in person in Italy), a couple of questions arise as regards their eventual choice to vote in person in Italy:
a) Did the Italian marines inform their consulate in India before 3 January 2013 (the cut off date to inform the consulate whether they will be voting in Italy or via postal ballots) that they would vote in Italy during the elections on 24-25 February and thus forgoing their option of a postal ballot?
b) If they did so, thus forgoing their postal vote, how could they be sure that their application to the Supreme Court would be approved (when the hearing itself was scheduled on 22 February; much after the cut off date of 3 Jan to inform the consulate of their decision to vote in person in Italy) and thus allowing them to travel to Italy to vote in the 24-25 Feb elections?
An answer to these two questions will determine whether Italy had already made up its mind about not sending the marines back well before 3 Jan 2013 when the marines were in Italy celebrating Christmas with their families till 4 Jan 2013 when they returned to India. Also, the answer to these questions will show if Italy had perjured in the highest court of India about the real reason of the marines’ application to go to Italy to vote in the elections; especially so since the option to vote in Italy was non-existent as on the date when the accused filed their application to the SC as the cut off date (3 Jan) to inform the consulate whether they would be voting by post or in person in Italy was already over.