Udayavni Special

Italian marines: 7 fishermen move SC, seek share from Rs 2 cr compensation awarded to vessel owner


PTI, Jul 30, 2021, 7:35 PM IST

New Delhi: Afresh plea has been moved in the Supreme Court by seven fishermen, who were on a vessel in February 2012 when their two colleagues were shot dead allegedly by two Italian marines, seeking their share from the Rs 2 crore compensation awarded to the boat owner.

A bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and V Ramasubramanian Friday adjourned the hearing to August 2 on the plea of the fishermen on the ground that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was unavailable.

On June 15, the top court had brought the curtains down on the 9-year old pending criminal proceedings in India against two Italian marines, Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who were accused of killing the two fishermen, after Rs 10 core in compensation was paid by Italy to the heirs of the deceased and the boat owner.

It was directed that Rs 4 crore each would be given to the dependents of two deceased fishermen and the rest Rs 2 crore would be given to the vessel owner.

The top court had referred the matter to the Kerala High Court to oversee the disbursement of amount.

In the fresh plea, the seven fishermen said they were also injured in the incident and hence, entitled for the compensation.

The fishermen have sought a stay on the disbursement of the compensation amount till their claims are determined.

Earlier, the top court had also said that as per the international arbitral award accepted by India, Italy shall resume further investigation in the case against the two marines and had quashed the FIR registered at Coastal Police Station of Neendakara, Kollam in Kerala and re-registered by NIA in 2013 and all the proceedings emanating from the case.

It had closed the case considering the fact that the Arbitral Tribunal constituted under Annex VII of UNCLOS has delivered its award dated May 21, 2020 under which the Republic of Italy has agreed to pay the compensation of Rs 10 crore, over and above the amount of ex-gratia amount already paid.

“We also further direct that the amount of Rs 10 crore now lying with the Registry of this Court be transferred to the High Court of Kerala, out of which Rs 4 crore be paid to the heirs of each deceased and Rs 2 crores be paid to the owner of the boat – St. Antony,” the bench had said.

It had requested the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court to nominate a Judge to pass appropriate order of disbursement/investment of the amount to be paid to the heirs of each deceased (Rs 4 crore each) so as to protect the interest of the heirs and ensure that the compensation is duly received by the heirs and not diverted/misappropriated.

“The order of disbursement/investment be passed after hearing the heirs of each deceased and appropriate order be passed, protecting the best interest of the heirs of each deceased.

”The remaining amount of Rs 2 crore be paid to the owner of the boat – St. Antony by an account payee cheque,” the bench had said.

The top court noted that Kerala, the heirs of the deceased fishermen and the owner of the boat have agreed to accept the award.

In February 2012, India had accused the two marines on board the MV Enrica Lexie — an Italian flagged oil tanker — of killing two Indian fishermen who were on a fishing vessel in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Latorre, who had suffered a brain stroke on August 31, 2014, was first granted bail and allowed by the apex court on September 12, 2014 to go to Italy for four months and after that, extensions have been granted to him.

In Italy, Latorre underwent a heart surgery after which the top court granted him extension of his stay in his native country.

The complaint against the marines was lodged by Freddy, the owner of fishing boat ‘St Antony’ in which two Kerala fishermen were killed when marines opened fire on them allegedly under the misconception that they were pirates.

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