SC closes criminal proceedings in Italian marines case

New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Tuesday closed all criminal proceedings against the Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012.

A vacation bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and M R Shah quashed the FIR and proceedings ending the case in India against the two Italian citizens.

The apex court also stated that as per the international arbitral award accepted by India, the Republic of Italy shall resume further probe in the case.

Earlier, the SC had agreed to close the case after being informed that compensation of Rs 10 crore for the families of the victims has been deposited in the registry of the top court.

The court termed the compensation as reasonable and adequate, directing the Chief Justice of Kerala High Court to nominate a Judge to pass appropriate order of disbursement to protect the interest of heirs and ensure it’s received by them.

The families of the two deceased fishermen had agreed on the compensation of Rs 4 crore each in addition to the Rs 2 crore already paid by the Italian government. The injured owner of the boat also consented to receive damages of Rs 2 crore.

On February 15, 2012, two Indian fishermen returning from a fishing expedition near Lakshadweep islands onboard fishing vessel St Antony were gunned down by two Italian marines onboard oil tanker Enrica Lexi in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The case led to hectic diplomatic parleys after which the two marines who were charged under various cases in India returned without any of the guarantees requested by Italy.

In May 2020, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague, Netherlands had ruled that the marines enjoyed immunity since they were exercising official functions in their capacity as Italian state officials when the incident occurred. It, therefore, ordered India to stop criminal proceedings against them. At the same time, the tribunal held that Italy violated India’s right to navigation by firing at the fishing boat and said that the country would have to compensate India for loss of life and damage to property.

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