Deposit ₹10 cr compensation amount to close cases against Italian marines: SC

The Supreme Court will on Friday (April 9) hear the Centre’s plea on closing criminal proceedings against the two Italian marines in a 2012 case

Italian marines Salvatore Girone (Left) and Massimiliano Latorre. Photo: PTI (File)

The Supreme Court directed the Centre on Friday (April 9) to deposit with it the ₹10 crore compensation amount offered by Italy to the families of two Indian fishermen who died aboard an Indian vessel after two Italian marines opened fire at it off the coast of Kerala in 2012. It said the criminal cases against the marines — Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre — can be closed only after the amount is deposited.

Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, who were guarding an Italian tanker Enrica, were accused of killing the two fishermen, who were on board the fishing vessel St Antony. The two claimed that they had opened fire after mistaking the fishermen for pirates.

The Centre told the Supreme Court that the Italian government will pay ₹10 crore as compensation to the relatives of the fishermen. In addition, close relatives of the deceased fishermen will get ₹4 crore each while the boat owner, who suffered injuries, will get ₹2 crore.

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The Supreme Court was on Friday (April 9) hearing the Centre’s plea on closing the criminal proceedings against the Italian marines.

The apex court was supposed to hear the matter in the coming week, but Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Union government, wanted an earlier hearing stating “urgency” in the case with regards to relations between India and Italy.

The International Arbitral Tribunal had ruled in May 21, 2020, that while India had the right to seek compensation for the loss of lives of the two fishermen, the Italian marines had immunity against being tried in Indian courts.

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The Centre then told the Supreme Court that it has accepted the verdict given by the International Arbitral Tribunal and sought disposal of the case. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also told the court that the victims’ families have been given the required compensation.

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The case

The Kerala Police had registered a case against Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, the two Italian marines onboard Enrica Lexie, charging them with shooting at and killing two Indian fishermen on board their fishing vessel St Antony on February 15, 2012. The marines argued in the court that they had mistaken the fishermen for pirates. They approached the Kerala High Court, questioning the state’s right to probe the matter.

When the High Court did not entertain their application, the Italian government approached the Supreme Court.

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