India on Saturday said it would go ahead with prosecuting the two Italian marines, accused of killing two fishermen, under a maritime security law that calls for a maximum punishment of 10-year jail.
Plans earlier by India to invoke a section of the maritime security Act that provides for mandatory execution for causing death aroused fury in Rome. “Now, they will be tried under Section 3(1) A which does not carry any death penalty,” a Home Ministry spokesman told AFP.
The new section carries a maximum 10-year term and a fine for acts of violence against any person on a ship.
On Friday, the Home Ministry said it would not try the men under the maritime security Act, but revised its stand on Saturday and said the men would face lesser charges under a different section.
The marines were accused of murder over the shooting deaths of two fishermen off the coast of Kerala while serving as security guards on an Italian-flagged cargo ship in February 2012.
Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone say they mistook the fishing boat for a pirate vessel and only fired warning shots.
India has dragged its feet in starting a trial, with legal experts attributing the delay to uncertainty over which law to use to prosecute the men.
The delay prompted the marines last month to ask the Supreme Court to drop murder charges against them and allow them to return home. — AFP