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Apr 11, 2013 at 03:28pm IST

Fishermen killings: CBI to take over Italian marines' case from NIA, say sources

New Delhi: The case of the two Italian marines, who are accused of killing two Kerala fishermen in 2012, will be transferred from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), said sources on Thursday.

The NIA had booked the marines under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002 but the Home Ministry had hinted that the charge may be dropped while filing the chargesheet. Under this Act, offence of murder is punishable only with death sentence.

"NIA will not press for death sentence against the marines - Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone - as per the assurance given by India to Italy even if they are convicted of murder," an official had said. The sources also said on Thursday that handing over the case to the CBI was the only way the MHA had avoided death penalty to the marines.

Fishermen killings: 'CBI to take over Italian marines' case'

Sources said handing over the case to the CBI seemed the only way out for the Ministry of Home Affairs to avoid death penalty for the marines.

Meanwhile, back channel talks have happened between Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan De Mistura and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid. Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti also had a word with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh. Italy is reportedly unhappy with the FIR filed by the NIA against the marines.

(With additional information from PTI)