State v Jannopoulos

JurisdictionItalia
CourtCourt of Appeal of Naples (Italy)
Date07 Febbraio 1974
Italy, Court of Appeal of Naples.
State
and
Jannopoulos

Jurisdiction Territorial Over ports and national waters Foreign vessel in port Possession of drugs by crew member Whether within jurisdiction of coastal State

Sea Internal waters Jurisdiction over crimes committed on board foreign ships The law of Italy

Summary: The facts:Jannopoulos, a Greek seaman on board a Cypriot ship moored in the port of Naples, was found to be in possession of 600 grammes of marijuana. He was charged by the Italian authorities with illegal possession of drugs, although there was no evidence that he had any intention of selling the substance in Italy.

Held:The defendant was acquitted.

Under a general rule of customary international law, a foreign ship in territorial waters retained its separate identity as long as it did not interfere in local life by acts likely to cause a breach of the peace on shore. Only such an interference would create a link between shore and ship entitling the coastal State to intervene.

The following is the text of the judgment of the Court:

There is no evidence at all that the defendant intended to sell the drugs within the territory of Italy, i.e. at Naples. Hence we are only left with the simple fact of possession in a cabin on board a foreign ship. In the Courts opinion such a fact falls outside the jurisdiction of the Italian authorities, and the Tribunal of Naples in particular, since it occurred in a place not subject to Italian sovereignty by virtue of international law (foreign ship in Italian territorial waters). It is true that Italian territorial waters are subject to the sovereignty of the Italian State (Article 2 of the Navigation Code and Article 4(h) of the Criminal Code) and anyone there, citizen or foreigner, is bound to obey Italian criminal law (Article 3(1) of the Criminal Code). But Italian criminal law ceases to be binding in exceptional cases laid down by national public law or by international law, as indeed is provided by the first clause of Article 3 of the Criminal Code. Hence we must consider whether in the case before us there is an exception under customary international law to the rule that Italian criminal law is binding, because this case (the illegality of the possession of drugs on board a foreign [Cypriot] ship in Italian territorial waters) is not directly covered either by Italian law or by international conventions. Indeed there are no Conventions on this point between Italy and Cyprus, and it appears that...

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