NEW DELHI: In what seems to be a setback to India in the 2012 Enrica Lexie case, a court under UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in its judgment has said that two Italian marines who shot dead two Indian fishermen, cannot be tried in an Indian court.
The court based in the Hague, in its ruling which came out Thursday said, Italy should compensate India for damages incurred by the shooting of the two fishermen but India has no jurisdiction over the men.
It was up to India and Italy to decide the amount of compensation warranted in the case, the court said.
The incident took place 2012. The two marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone onboard the Enrica Lexie, an Italian oil tanker, said later that the mistook two Indian fishermen for pirates and shot them in international waters. India on its part said the shooting had taken place in Indian waters and detained the two men. The case soured relations between Rome and New Delhi over New Delhi holding the two marines in custody in India for several years.
India had maintained that the marines had flouted India's sovereign right by moving into Indian waters and killing two Indian fishermen.
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava on Thursday said that the court had held that “the actions of the Italian military officers and, consequently, Italy breached India’s freedom of navigation under UNCLOS."
Srivastava also said the court had decided India is entitled to compensation in connection with loss of life, physical harm, material damage to property and moral harm suffered by the captain and other crew members of Indian fishing vessel, St. Antony. The court rejected Italy’s claim to compensation for the detention of the marines.
In 2012, the Italian side had struck an agreement with the two fishermen's families for ₹1 crore each as what they described "compensation." The Supreme Court had expressed shock at some clauses of the agreement saying it amounted to "blood money". Appearing on behalf of the Italian side, Harish Salve has claimed it was not "blood money" but compensation to allow the two families to rebuild their lives.
There has been a pause in the case in the Supreme Court as Italy took the matter to the Arbitral Tribunal under UNCLOS questioning India's jurisdiction in the matter.