The Supreme Court on Tuesday closed all criminal proceedings against two Italian marines – Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who killed two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012, Bar and Bench reported.
The Centre had informed the court on June 11 that Italy had paid the compensation amount, which would be allocated to the families of the fishermen.
“Republic of Italy has deposited [the amount] it and it is now transferred to this court’s registry,” the bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and MR Shahs said. “We are satisfied with the compensation and the ex-gratia paid over and above earlier. This is a fit case to close all proceedings in India under Article 142 of the Constitution.”
A compensation of Rs 10 crore will be transferred to the Kerala High Court, the Supreme Court said. The families of the victims will receive Rs 4 crore each. The owner of the boat that was damaged in the incident will receive Rs 2 crore.
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.
India and Italy had taken the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration 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.
In July, 2020, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in the Netherlands had ruled that India was entitled to claim compensation from Italy.
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 were 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.