However, the Centre told an Apex Court bench headed by Justice BS Chauhan that the probe would continue to be carried out by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The Apex Court issued notice to the Centre on the marines’ plea that they cannot be investigated and prosecuted by the NIA. The notice is returnable in one week and the reply in another week.

The court directed the listing of the matter before a three-judge bench.

India has previously ruled out the possibility of a death penalty but said it would still prosecute the marines under the anti-piracy law which witnessed strong protest from the Italian government and sought UN and European Union intervention in easing the deadlock.

Last week, Italy recalled its Ambassador to India to register protest over the delay in filing charges against the marines.

Italy also has fought India's insistence on prosecuting the marines, saying the shooting happened in international waters during an international anti-piracy mission and thus Rome, not India, should have jurisdiction.

The Marines, Massimilliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, have been held in India since February 2012 when they allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala, mistaking them for pirates.

The marines were serving as security personnel on an Italian oil tanker MT Enrica Lexie crossing the Indian Ocean.


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