The Indian government has told the Supreme Court (SC) that the Italian marines responsible for killing two Indian fishermen in 2012 will be prosecuted in their home country as assured by the Italian government.
The marines could not be tried in Indian courts due to the immunity cover enjoyed by them as conveyed by an international court.
The above statement was made during a hearing to close the case against the two Italian marines. Instead, the court said that it would first listen to the families of the fishermen and then the case can be closed.
The SC also asked the Centre to make a fresh plea making the victims’ family members as parties to its application.
The apex court also told the Centre to let Italy pay the victims’ compensation, and then it could allow the withdrawal of prosecution. The top court insisted that it will have to hear the kin of the victims on the adequacy of compensation before it can close the case.
The case against the Italian marines will be investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
On 3 July, the Centre had informed the top court that it had accepted the international tribunal award in the killing of two fishermen by the Italian marines. The Centre asked the apex court to close the matter pending before it for eight years.
The tribunal ruled for the trial of the marines in Italy. It said India is entitled to payment of 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 the Indian fishing boat 'St Antony'.
However, it also said that the marines deserve immunity and that India is “precluded from exercising its jurisdiction” in the case.
On 15 February 2012, two Indian fishermen aboard the fishing vessel St Antony were allegedly killed by the two Italian marines aboard the Italian tanker 'Enrica Lexie' off the coast of Kerala.
The Indian Navy intercepted the Italian tanker and detained the two marines, triggering an international conflict over legal jurisdiction and functional immunity.
It was then that the Kerala High Court said that India had the jurisdiction to try the Italian marines as the act to shoot the fishermen was not in self-defence. The two marines then took the matter to the Supreme Court where they were granted bail and were allowed to return to Italy in 2016.
— with inputs from IANS.
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