The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its orders in the case against the Italian marines who killed two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012, after the bench was told that a Rs 10-crore deposit has been made by Italy, reported Live Law. The court said it will pass orders on June 15 on the quashing of the cases against the marines as well as on disbursing the compensation, reported PTI.
A bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and MR Shah was hearing the Centre’s application to close the criminal cases against the marines – Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone – after Italy paid the compensation amount to be allocated to the victims of the sea-firing incident and their families. On April 9, the Supreme Court had made it clear that the cases would be closed only after Italy paid the amount.
According to the Centre’s affidavit on January 5, the families of the deceased have agreed to accept the compensation of Rs 4 crore each besides the Rs 2 crore they have already received from the Italian government, reported the Hindustan Times. The injured owner of the boat also accepted Rs 2 crore for damages.
On Friday, Senior Advocate KN Balagopal, appearing for the Kerala government, told the court that the state has accepted the proposal of the Italian government after verifying the consent letters of the victims’ heirs.
However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said the amount has not been allocated as the Kerala government expressed that residents who were injured also need to be compensated. “It is for the Kerala government to apportion the amount,” Mehta said, adding that the amount has been deposited to the Supreme Court registry.
Meanwhile, the court said it might transfer the compensation matter to the Kerala High Court for it to decide on how to disburse it.
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 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 had 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 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 could not try the marines as the crime was committed outside Indian territorial waters. But, India had rejected the claim of the shooting taking place in international waters.