The Supreme Court on Friday said the criminal cases pending against two Italian marines will be closed only after the European country deposits a compensation of Rs 10 crore for killing Indian fishermen in 2012 off the coast of Kerala, Live Law reported. This is in addition to the Rs 2.17 crore Italy has paid to the two fishermen’s families.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde directed that the Republic of Italy should deposit the compensation amount, as directed by the international tribunal, in the account specified by the Ministry of External Affairs. Within a week of receiving the amount from Italy, the Indian government should deposit the same before the Supreme Court, the bench said.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that the government will share with Italy the account number in which the amount has to be deposited later on Friday. Senior advocate Sohail Dutta, appearing for the Republic of Italy, agreed to deposit the amount in the accounts specified by the Indian government.
Mehta also told the court that the families of the fishermen had agreed to accept the Rs 10 crore compensation offered by the Italian government. He said the family of the two deceased fishermen will be given Rs 4 crore each, while the injured owner of the boat will be paid Rs 2 crore in damages.
In July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands had ruled that India is entitled to claim compensation from Italy, after the two Italian marines were accused of killing Indian fishermen in 2012. The marines, who were onboard Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie on February 15, 2012, said they had fired at the fishermen because they believed they were in international waters and claimed to have mistaken them for pirates.
The international court had 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 prevented India from exercising its jurisdiction over them.
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.
India and Italy had taken the case to the international court in 2015. The main bone of contention between the two countries was 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.