New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday declined an Indian government plea to end the prosecution of two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012 until it has heard from the victims’ families on the issue of Italian compensation.
Government attorney Tushar Mehta sought the court’s permission following a ruling by an international arbitration court in July that Italy, not India, has jurisdiction in prosecuting the marines.
The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ordered Italy to pay compensation to India for the loss of life, material damage and “moral harm” suffered by the surviving crew of the fishing ship. It invited the two countries to enter into negotiations to reach a final financial settlement.
Italy had argued that the men were Italian government employees acting in their official capacities when the fishermen were shot.
On Friday, Chief Justice SA Bobde told the government attorney to let Italy pay compensation to the victims’ families and the court will allow the withdrawal of prosecution of the marines.
India had accused Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre of killing the two fishermen in Indian waters while they were assigned to anti-piracy duties aboard an Italian commercial ship. The shooting, and India’s claim of jurisdiction in the case, strained relations between the two countries.
Italy said the marines thought the fishermen were pirates, that they fired warning shots, and that the shooting occurred in international waters. Italy took the case to international arbitration after India arrested the men and detained them without charge for years.
After the ruling by the arbitration court in July, the Italian Foreign Ministry said it was ready to fulfill what the arbitration tribunal had established.