The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands on Thursday ruled that India is entitled to claim compensation from Italy, in the case of the two Italian marines who were accused of killing Indian fishermen in 2012 off the coast of Kerala, Live Law reported.
The marines, who were onboard Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie on February 15 that year, had claimed they fired at the fishermen because they were in international waters and claimed to have mistaken them for pirates.
The court said the two marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, had violated international law and as a result Italy breached India’s freedom of navigation, under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The tribunal said compensation must be provided to India for loss of life, material and moral harm suffered by the captain and crew of the Indian shipping vessel on which the marines fired.
However, the tribunal also declared, by a 3:2 majority, that the marines are entitled to immunity, and India is precluded from exercising its jurisdiction over them.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration, which was constituted under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, said that the two parties to the case – India and Italy – should reach an agreement on the amount of compensation Rome would pay to New Delhi. The court said that the Arbitral Tribunal will retain jurisdiction over the case if either India or Italy, or both, approach it to determine the quantum of the compensation.
The court also ruled that India must end criminal proceedings in its courts against the two marines. The tribunal said this was based on Italy’s promise that it would try Latorre and Girone in its courts. The Kerala High Court had taken up the case followed by the Supreme Court.
India and Italy had taken the case to the international court in 2015. The main bone of contention between the two countries is Italy’s assertion that India cannot try the marines, as the crime was committed outside Indian territorial waters. India has rejected the claim of the shooting taking place in international waters.
On Thursday, the court also ruled that Italy cannot seek compensation for the detention of the marines in India, India Today reported. While Latorre was released from the custody of Indian authorities in 2014 and returned to Italy, Girone was released in 2016 following Supreme Court orders.