NEW DELHI – India's top court extended an Italian marine's medical leave Monday for another six months, allowing him to stay in Italy and continue receiving medical treatment before he and a fellow marine are formally charged in the fatal shooting of two Indian fishermen in 2012.
Italy recently moved for international arbitration in the case, after nearly three years of unsuccessful negotiations, and has asked that the Indian case be put on hold until the arbitration process is complete.
India's top prosecutor P.S. Narasimha told the court on Monday that India would participate in arbitration proceedings, the Press Trust of India news agency said.
He asserted, however, that India had the jurisdiction to try the Italian marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, as the alleged offense had taken place in Indian waters, PTI reported.
Judge A. R. Dave asked the Indian government to give a formal response on arbitration by Aug. 26.
India has said it wants to charge the two marines with murder for killing two Indian fishermen while guarding an Italian cargo ship against pirates off southwestern India.
Latorre on Monday was given permission to stay in Italy beyond Wednesday, when his leave was set to expire, after he developed complications following heart surgery in January.
"Italy now prepares to activate all necessary measures to allow the return" of Girone to Italy, the Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday, without describing those steps.
Italy objects to the fact that the two men have been detained since 2012 without being formally charged. It also insists India has no jurisdiction in the case, saying the shooting occurred in international waters and the fishermen were mistaken for pirates.
India had long said it planned to formally charge the two men on the first day of a trial, according to Indian judicial norms. The case has been repeatedly delayed from reaching the trial stage, however, as the two countries wrangle over legal and jurisdictional questions. Indian courts are notorious for delays as compared to judicial practices of most democratic countries.