India - San Marco Rgt. Interesting Situation.


Anyone else following this saga?

Two Italian Marines detailed to protect a merchant ship have been arrested in India and charged with murder after allegedly killing two fishermen.

Lots of different angles to this story; jurisdiction, diplomacy, Intl law of the Sea, Indian and Italian criminal law, local and international politics etc. Some serious implications for anyone working in maritime security (not least of all, the two Marines).

All sorts of perspectives.

The Indians here: Tehelka - India's Independent Weekly News Magazine (Note how the Marines are described as "armed mercenaries"). They are playing hardball:Gulf Times – Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper - India

The Italians are supporting their men (as so they should) with some pretty high-level emmisaries (Minister for for Foreign Affairs) AFP: Italy sends top diplomat to India in shootings row

Their Cdr has come out in support: Italian commander defends India shootings soldiers

The story seems to be monitored here (giving both perspectives) Italy and India Stand Off Over M/V Enrica Lexie Incident [UDPATED] | gCaptain - Maritime & Offshore

The Marines were experienced blokes (Sgt and Master Chief) from an elite unit, on an official deployment. The exact details seem unclear, but it appears that the Indians pushed their luck a bit to far.

Let's see how this pans out!


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An interesting standoff. India is determined to exert control over the Indian Ocean and attempting to exert it's jursidiction over events in international waters should be interesting. Meantime these poor buggers are in an Indian jail cell.
Sounds as though the Indians are getting too big for their chupplies, if the incident occurred at sea in international waters and on board an Italian flagged vessel, then Messers Gupta and Co should leave well alone as it,s sod all to do with them or anybody else other than the Captain of said ship in the first place.
Sources privy to the meeting said the Italian Minister claimed that the Italian extra-territorial law should prevail. India has already said its laws also have a similar provision in case an Indian or an Indian vessel is attacked.

Ms. Kaur heard out his argument as well as the claim that alternatively, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) should apply. It provides for prosecution in the state whose flag the ship is flying. With the Ministry of External Affairs' legal cell already contesting this claim, Ms. Kaur told the Minister that as Indians, “we will go by our law.”

Italy has been pressuring India from various quarters and has tried to bring the Vatican into the picture. With the Catholic angle not gaining traction because of the prevailing mood in Kerala, Rome has made three basic arguments: Italy has a provision for extra-territorial application of its laws; UNCLOS provides for prosecution in the home country; and vessels have the right to fire at pirates.

The Ministry of External Affairs counters these by saying Indian laws, too, have a provision for extra-territorial application; the relevant UNCLOS article applies to naval vessels and, that too, in cases of collision; and only naval vessels have the right to fire at pirates, but in this incident, off the Kerala coast, unarmed fishermen were shot at in an area with no history of piracy.
The Hindu : News / National : As Italy pushes for
I wonder how UK would react if British fishermen were shot and killed in the North Sea in an area not known to have pirates!

I am sure the British would not be taken to be growing too big for their boots or would they?
Sorry Ray but we are constantly being told that very thing, mainly by our rulers in Brussels, hey ho! such a pity the Empire died.
The UNCLOS and the 1976 Act establish the following regime for the coastal state’s (here, India’s) jurisdiction:

Territorial Sea: breadth of of up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baselines determined in accordance with the UNCLOS. (Art. 3 UNCLOS) The sovereignty of a coastal State extends, beyond its land territory and internal waters and, in the case of an archipelagic State, its archipelagic waters, to an adjacent belt of sea, described as the territorial sea. (Art. 2 UNCLOS). For our purposes, the 1976 Indian Act in Section 3 provides that ”[t]he sovereignty of India extends and has always extended to the territorial waters of India and to the seabed and subsoil underlying, and the air space over such waters.” Thus, the Indian Penal Code, under which the marines are charged, is an exercise of prescriptive territorial jurisdiction. In other words, India can exercise both prescriptive and enforcement jurisdiction in the territorial sea on the issue of security (taking the killing of fishermen to be this issue).
I concede it is a tricky issue, but then it is time to also ensure that jittery people, who are scared of even their shadow, don't go aping the wild west!

Further, contrary to what a poster (Bouillabaisse) has written, the Marines are not in Jail.

They are in a Guest House practically as honoured guests and the Kerala Christian Fishermen's Association is up in arms as to why they are being given this VIP treatment when they have killed their folks!
Hmm! the whole business reads well, if a tad legalisticaly for most lay persons I would suppose, but it does rather smack of two dogs fighting over a bone, a bone of legalese and of mens rea and mens rosa and all that other mind numbing bullshit, fishermen are dead and it was supposed they were pirates, well thats tragic but then again the Indian Ocean is turning into a tragic expanse of sea and it,s all down to neither India nor in this case Italy, its down to Som bloody malia, so what happens now?.
I have to say I tend to go with the Indians on this one; their citizens got shot up offshore and they feel that things should go to court. I mean, the rule of law is supposed to be something we're for, after all. Compared to the shocking state of the Italian judiciary I think you've a better chance of justice in India anyway.

Now fishermen over here and I suppose in India as well do tend to be quite bloody minded and quite averse to stopping fishing because some random merchant vessel can't be bothered to go round them but that is not a capital offence. If the Italians don't have some fairly compelling video or pictures backing up why they opened fire first then I can't see it ending well for them. Particularly as merchant ships are supposed to avoid fishing boats, not drive straight at them then brass them up.
Two stubborn, unarmed Indian fishermen shot dead by Italian Servicemen aboard a civilian vessel in Indian waters. Italian servicemen in Indian custody pending investigation, what's wrong with that?
The Indian criminal justice system is pretty fair and above board - seems to me it's the Italians trying to put on a political dog and pony show - enlisting the aid of the Vatican! For what? Is the Pope going to pole up to the Court in his best SD and give the Eytie booties a character report?

It'll all come out in the dhobi.
The shooters clearly failed to follow the RUF and killed two innocent fishermen so they should be held accountable. Skiffs will frequently 'buzz' a larger vessel if the latter is about to steam through their nets. The marines clearly didn't identify a weapon or fire warning shots before engaging so were most likely either: a) not properly trained (unlikely), b) acting like cowboys, or c) hadn't been keeping a proper watch and responded too hastily to a panicking crew. With only a two man team onboard my money would be on 'c'.
Has it been established where the killings happened?
Has it been established that warnings were issued?
Has it been established that the "fishermen" were indeed unarmed?
Is this coastal region of India inhabited by Muslims?

Quite a few assumptions being made before the facts are known.
Somebody has done a pretty good collation job on Wikipedia 2012 Italian shooting in the Arabian sea - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And as for it all coming out in the dhobi, there are clearly lots of issues to be clarified. I can see that this incident will become a case-study for all courses in International Law. Still plenty of unresolved stuff on many levels:
Management: What about the role of the Master? He has ultimate responsability for the safety of the ship as well as various reporting duties. The matter of the VDR records is still unclear.
Operations: What were the ROE? Who takes responsability for the decision to engage?
Jurisdiction. Two issues here; one relates to the location of the incident (exactly where did this incident take place?) and the other is more technical (rounds fired from "Italy" but struck targets in "India").
Diplomacy / Public International Law: Role of state "players" in resolving the matter.
Command: What was the CofC for the Marines? Who ordered engagement?
Criminal Law: How does the Indian Penal Code apply to soldiers of a foreign country acting in the course of their lawfully appointed duties? Aspects of this issue are seen in the wrangle over the wearing of uniform by the marines in court. They are insisting on wearing kit.

Another quick couple of observations. It seems that there was a security team of 6 on the ship, not just the two.
Also, it seems that they are in jail, no longer in the Police Guest House.

Given the experience and rank (and specific training / role) of the Marines, I'm inclined to think that they would not have had a jittery overreaction. In any case, their shooting seems to have been precise.

Another puzzle is the only slightly reported news of an actual nearby pirate attack on the Greek ship, Olympic Flair.
Probably find those Booties went to school with Frankie Schettino, he was well trained too, apparently.
Good post Tarkwa, as I said it'll all come out in the dhobi.

BTW. Your name? I remember a firing range outside of Takoradi in Ghana called Tarkwa - believe there was a gold mine there too. You from that part of the world?
And the diplomatic angle hots up with the Indian Ambassador being summoned for tea and no bikkies: UPDATE 2-Italy summons Indian ambassador over marines' arrest | Reuters

Lots more to unfold.

Busterdog, quite correct about the user name. I had been risk consulting around that neighbourhood when I registered with ARRSE and it popped into mind when I needed a user name. Buckets of interesting military history around Takoradi. Not to derail the thread but the Takoradi air link was critical to the eventual success of the Allies in N Africa in WW2, Saffer aircrew did some valuable anti sub ops out of there in WW2 using experimental kit: 26 Squadron SAAF RN presence: Komenda RNAS / HMS Wara, adventures of the RN Patrol Service and the RWAFF

Modern day pirates are still active all around the Bight J. Peter Pham, Ph.D. : 'Africa's Other Dangerous Waters: Piracy in the Gulf of Guinea' : Strategic Interests : World Defense Review and Piracy attacks in East and West Africa dominate world report
Has it been established where the killings happened?
Has it been established that warnings were issued?
Has it been established that the "fishermen" were indeed unarmed?
Is this coastal region of India inhabited by Muslims?

Quite a few assumptions being made before the facts are known.
The Fishermen were Christians.

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