Court to hear India-Italy marine shooting case next year

In this March 20, 2013 file photo Italian marines Salvatore Girone, left, and Massimiliano Latorre, arrive at a military prosecutor's office in Rome. (AP)
Updated 20 December 2018
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Court to hear India-Italy marine shooting case next year

  • Italy initiated international proceedings in 2015, referring the row to the Netherlands-based tribunal and asking it to rule on where the men should be tried

THE HAGUE: An international tribunal will hear in July next year the case of two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen in India, the court based in The Hague said Wednesday.
The case of Salvatore Girone and fellow marine Massimiliano Latorre has poisoned relations between and Rome and New Delhi since it happened in 2012.
The Italian pair are accused of shooting the fishermen while protecting an Italian oil tanker as part of an anti-piracy mission off India’s southern Kerala coast.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said it will hold a public hearing from July 8 to July 20 next year, on who has jurisdiction in the case.
“The forthcoming hearing will address the jurisdiction of the Arbitral Tribunal as well as the merits of Italy’s claims and India’s counter-claims,” the court said in a statement.
Italy initiated international proceedings in 2015, referring the row to the Netherlands-based tribunal and asking it to rule on where the men should be tried.
Both Italians were initially held in India, but Latorre was allowed to return to Italy in 2014 after suffering a stroke. Girone was permitted to do the same in 2016 after living in Italy’s embassy in Delhi for four years.
New Delhi insists both Italians should return to India for a final judgment by an Indian court.
The detention of the marines, the murder charges and the long wait for the case to be resolved are sore subjects in Italy.
Italy insists the oil tanker, the MV Enrica Lexie, was in international waters as part of an anti-piracy mission at the time of the incident.
India argues the case is not a maritime dispute but “a double murder at sea,” in which one fisherman was shot in the head and the other in the stomach.
In December 2014 Rome threatened to withdraw its ambassador from India after a court rejected Latorre’s original request for medical leave.


North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

Updated 20 September 2019

North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

  • South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme
  • Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, although a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people

SEOUL: North Korea’s crop production this year is expected to drop to its lowest level in five years, bringing serious shortages for 40 percent of the population, as a dry spell and poor irrigation hit an economy already reeling from sanctions over its weapons programs, the United Nations said on Thursday.
In its latest quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the poor harvest of the country’s main crops, rice and maize, means 10.1 million people are in urgent need of assistance.
“Below-average rains and low irrigation availability between mid-April and mid-July, a critical period for crop development, mainly affected the main season rice and maize crops,” the FAO said. The report, which covers cereal supply and demand around the world and identifies countries that need external food aid, didn’t disclose detailed estimates of production by volume.
North Korea has long struggled with food shortages and a dysfunctional state rationing system, and state media has in recent months warned of drought and other “persisting abnormal phenomena.”
The crops shortfall comes as the country bids to contain the spread of African swine fever in its pig herd, following confirmation of a first case in May.
The disease, fatal to pigs though not harmful to humans, has spread into Asia — including South Korea — since first being detected in China last year, resulting in large-scale culls and reduced production of pork, a staple meat across the region including in North Korea.
The FAO report followed earlier UN assessments this year that the isolated country’s food production last year fell to its lowest level in more than a decade amid a prolonged heatwave, typhoon and floods.
South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme (WFP). But its delivery has been delayed by Pyongyang’s lukewarm response amid stalled inter-Korean dialogue and denuclearization talks with the United States, Seoul officials said.
In July, the North’s official KCNA news agency said a campaign to mitigate the effects of drought was under way by digging canals and wells, installing pumps, and using people and vehicles to transport water.
But North Korea has told the United Nations to cut the number of its staff it deploys in the country for aid programs. citing the “politicization of UN assistance by hostile forces.”
Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, but observers said a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people.