Italian marines case: SC says govt can't withdraw case till Kerala families paid2 min read . Updated: 07 Aug 2020, 04:17 PM IST
- The case dates to 2012 when two Italian marines “mistook” two Indian fishermen for pirates and shot them dead
- The arbitration court in The Hague ruled that the trial will be held in Italy and that the country should compensate India
NEW DELHI: The Supreme court on Friday refused the government’s plea to withdraw the petition in Enrica Lexie case, until the families of the two Kerala fishermen, who were shot dead by two Italian marines, are heard and they are compensated.
The court before adjourning the case said, “First let Italy pay them compensation. Only then we will allow withdrawal of prosecution. Bring the cheques and the kin of victims here."
The case goes back to 2012 when two Italian marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, onboard oil tanker Enrica Lexie, “mistook" two Indian fishermen for pirates and shot them dead in international waters. India said the shooting had taken place in Indian waters and detained the two men.
The case soured relations between Rome and New Delhi with the two marines being held 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.
The Centre had submitted in its application filed in July at the apex court that it has “decided to accept and abide" by the decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, based at The Hague in Netherlands. The 2 July order of the arbitration court held that India is entitled to claim compensation from Italy in the case. The arbitration panel had heard the matter as per the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
“Without hearing the kin of deceased, we cannot close the case," said Chief Justice S. A. Bobde told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta today. He added the criminal case against marines in Kerala will not be closed till compensation is paid to the victim’s families.
“There is a criminal charge before a special court where victims’ are also appearing. Now without applying for withdrawal of prosecution there, how can you come here?" questioned the chief justice.
The government informed the apex court that Italy has assured fair prosecution of marines and that compensation for families of the slain Kerala fishermen shall be negotiated.
The Tribunal in its July order had held that India has no jurisdiction over the marine men and hence cannot hear the case in India. It ruled that trial of the marines will be held in Italy and that the country should compensate India for damages incurred by the shooting of the two fishermen.
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 SC 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.