Not Exactly Captain Phillips

Back in February 2012, two Italian marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre were working as part of a military security team protecting a cargo ship from pirates.  The sailors, who say they mistook two Indian fisherman for pirates, fired warning shots at the fisherman and then killed them off the coast of Kerala, India.  The Italian marines are still in India, out on bail but not allowed to leave, as the Indian Government contemplates what law to try them under.  There is the maritime security legislation, which only carries the death penalty, or there is the Indian Penal Code, which provides for the death penalty or life imprisonment.  Italy has strongly opposed the maritime law, and was previously given assurance by India that they would not under any circumstances invoke the death penalty against the marines.  India gave this assurance after they granted leave to the Italians to go to Italy for a short period of time, and Italy was not going to let them back.  India may be going back on their promise.

The maritime security legislation is an anti-terrorism law, and in order for the marines to be tried under the legislation, a government sanction is needed.  The law was put in place to deter terrorist activity that throws ships off their route.  A decision on what law to be used is supposed to come on February 10th.  The decision could have serious implications on India-European Union relations, which seems to already have been strained.  Additionally, the outcome of this case will yield clearer guidelines for what security teams protecting cargo ships from pirates can do in such situations.  These two men have been held in India for roughly two years at this point, and the necessity of using the maritime security law against these men seems unwarranted and unclear to me.  Do you think the Indian government is making the wrong moves here?  Why are they so strongly considering the maritime security law?




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