SC closes cases against Italian marines who shot Indian fishermen
The Supreme Court on Tuesday closed all criminal cases against two Italian marines who had allegedly killed two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012. The apex court also noted that the Rs. 10 crore (£1 million) compensation paid by the Republic of Italy over and above the payment already made was "reasonable and adequate." Here are more details.
SC directs transfer of compensation to Kerala HC
A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and MR Shah quashed the criminal cases against the marines. The SC directed the transfer of the Rs. 10 crore compensation—deposited with the Supreme Court Registry— to the Kerala High Court. The HC must distribute the money: Rs. 4 crore to the kin of each of the two victims and Rs. 2 crore to the boat's owner.
All parties accepted compensation, court noted
The SC noted that the owner of the boat, the kin of those deceased, the Kerala government, and the Centre have all decided to accept the compensation. The SC asked the Kerala HC Chief Justice to nominate a judge to pass appropriate orders to protect the interests of the heirs of the deceased. It must be ensured that the compensation is received by them.
Fishermen were gunned down by Italian marines in February 2012
On February 15, 2012, two fishermen from a fishing expedition near Lakshadweep islands aboard the fishing vessel St Antony were gunned down by the two Italian marines—Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre—aboard the oil tanker Enrica Lexie. After the incident, the marines were arrested and charged with murder. However, India had ruled against the death penalty, if they were to be found guilty.
Marines fired shots after fishermen ignored warnings: Italy
The marines had said that they mistook the fishermen for pirates. Rome had also argued that the marines only fired shots after the fishermen ignored warnings to stay away from the MV Enrica Lexie tanker.
Case led to diplomatic row between India, Italy
The marines were held in custody in India as the trial remained pending, but they were allowed to return to Italy (Latorre in 2014; Girone in 2016). A diplomatic row erupted. In 2015, India and Italy approached the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Hague. Last July, the PCA said the marines were immune to prosecution in India, but should face trial in Italy.
PCA had directed Rome to pay compensation to India
The PCA had directed Rome to pay compensation to India "for loss of life, physical injuries, material damage to the vessel and moral harm suffered by the commander and crew of the fishing vessel."