The Supreme Court has directed the closure of the ongoing criminal case in India against two Italian marines who are accused of killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012. The top court directed that the compensation of Rs 10 crore meant for the heirs of the victim be transferred to the Kerala High Court. The compensation amount was paid by Italy to the Government of India and the Centre had deposited this amount with the Supreme Court Registry.
The court said that out of the Rs 10 crore compensation, Rs 4 crore each shall be fixed deposited in the name of heirs of two deceased Kerala fishermen and Rs 2 crore shall be given to the owner of the boat. The court said that heirs of fishermen will be able to withdraw the interest amount during the period of fixed deposit of compensation money, so that the entire money is not misappropriated. The court termed the compensation ‘reasonable and adequate’.
The apex court said that as per the international arbitral award accepted by India, Italy shall resume further investigation in the case against the marines – Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague had ruled that India had no jurisdiction to carry out criminal proceedings against the Italian marines and directed Italy to probe the incident. The Tribunal also directed Italy to pay compensation to the victims’ families.
The Centre had also informed the top court of Italy’s assurance that it would prosecute the marines there as per law. In February 2012, India had accused the two marines on board the MV Enrica Lexie — an Italian flagged oil tanker — of killing two Indian fishermen who were on a fishing vessel in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The complaint against the marines was lodged by Freddy, the owner of the fishing boat ‘St Antony’ in which two Kerala fishermen were killed when marines opened fire on them allegedly under the misconception that they were pirates.