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The Enrica Lexie Incident: Law of the Sea and Immunity of State Officials Issues


This article examines the case of the Enrica Lexie, a commercial ship having on board military personnel engaging in anti-piracy duties who was involved in an incident with persons on a fishing vessel off the Indian coast. It takes into consideration India’s claim to exercise its criminal jurisdiction over the Italian marines indicted of having killed two Indian fishermen, the judgments passed by India’s courts and the multiple aspects of the ensuing controversy between India and Italy. It is argued that the two marines enjoy functional immunity, even if it is admitted that India has jurisdiction over the case. The article concludes that new conventional law is needed for incidents like that of the Enrica Lexie paralleling Article 97 UNCLOS on collisions on the high seas.