The Incident

• 15 February 2012 – MV Enrica Lexie oil tanker was off the coast of Kerala, while travelling from Singapore to Egypt.

• Vessel Protection Detachments (VPD)
• 2 Italian marines security officer onboard the ship fired shots killing two Indian fishermen aboard an Indian vessel, St. Anthony.


• The Incident occurred 20.5 nautical miles off the coast of Kerala.

• This was within the `CONTIGUOUS’ waters of India, acc to UNCLOS.

• The Indian Navy soon intercepted the vessel and brought it to coast.

Italian Marines Enrica Lexie case

UNCLOS limits

Territorial waters – 12-nautical-mile (22 km)

Contiguous waters – 12 nautical miles (22 km) from the territorial sea baseline limit

In this zone, a state can continue to enforce laws in four specific areas: customs, taxation, immigration, pollution.
The contiguous zone is also a hot pursuit area.
The security officers assumed that the fishing boat was pirates and that they were in international waters.

After the Incident

Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre – Both the Marines were detained by India.
The detention and later arrest sparked off a conflict of opinions over legal jurisdiction and functional immunity between the governments of India and Italy

It also led to diplomatic tension between the two nations for many years.
They were allowed to return to Italy in early 2013 on a temporary leave. Once the Italian marines landed in Italy, Italian authorities notified to India they would not return the marines unless there was a guarantee they would not face the death penalty under IPC section.

They returned back and stayed at Italian embassy in New Delhi
They were not formally charged for 2/4 years. 2014 — Murder charges framed by NIA (later downgraded to violence)

First week of January 2015 – European Parliament (Parliament is composed of 705 members) issued an official resolution, according to which human rights of the 2 Italian marines were violated.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) ( the Law of the Sea Convention or the Law of the Sea treaty) provides for a dispute resolution mechanism regarding countries maritime boundaries in which member states can choose either the

  1. International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea Convention
  2. International Court of Justice (ICJ)
  3. Arbitral tribunal (constituted in accordance with Annex VII, UNCLOS)
  4. A special arbitral tribunal (constituted in accordance with Annex VIII).

2015 – Italy went to the International Tribunal for Law of the Sea (ITLOS) seeking for the marines to stay in their own country during the trial process and also to stop India from going ahead with its criminal prosecution.

ITLOS issued provisional measures in the case and ordered that “Italy and India shall both suspend all court proceedings and refrain from initiating new ones which might aggravate or extend the dispute.”

PCA was established in 1899 and headquartered at the HIague in Netherlands.

Not a UN body, not a court. r It is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to serve the international community in the field of dispute resolution and to facilitate arbitration and other forms of dispute resolution between States.

The tribunal was constituted to settle disputes related to the United Nations Convention for the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

India vs. Italy at the PCA

A five-member tribunal comprising jurists from Russia, Jamaica and South Korea AND one each from India and Italy
4-3. ruling

Loss for India

PCA has ruled that India does not have jurisdiction to try the Italian marines.

It recognized the functional immunity of the two, noting that they were engaged in a mission on behalf of the Italian Government, and thus ruled that the process continue in Italy.

Italy will resume its criminal investigation into the `Enrica Lexie’ case, while India is required to cease exercising its jurisdiction on the marines.

Partial win for India

The PCA ruled that the actions of the Italian officers breached India’s freedom of navigation under UNCLOS Article 87(1)(a) and 90.

India is entitled to payment of recompense in connection with loss of life, physical harm, material damage to property (including to the “St. Antony”) and moral harm by the captain and other crew members in the ship.

• Indian government did not make the order public on May 21 2020
• The immediate impact of the verdict is that the Supreme Court of India, which had sent the two marines home on bail, cannot proceed with the legal process in a case related to the killing of two Indian citizens as per Indian laws.

The most important impact of the PCA award will be that, if a similar incident was to happen in the future upon Indian coastal waters, the law enforcement agencies will find it difficult or impossible to effectively intervene to protect the interests of the country and its citizens who frequent the EEZ for their living.

Italian Marines Enrica Lexie case Italian Marines Enrica Lexie case