India drops murder case against Italian marines

16 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

NEW DELHI: India’s top court on Tuesday dropped long-running proceedings against two Italian marines who shot dead two fishermen off Kerala in 2012, but said that the soldiers should now be tried in their own country, reports AFP.

Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre killed the unarmed fishermen off the southern Indian coast in February 2012 while protecting an Italian oil tanker as part of an anti-piracy mission.

After a legal saga that has dogged relations between Rome and New Delhi for almost a decade, India in April accepted a compensation offer of 100 million rupees ($1.4 million, 1.1 million euros). Quashing the case, India’s Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that 40 million rupees each would be given to the families and the remaining 20 million rupees to the owner of the boat used by the fishermen.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio tweeted that the ruling “brings this long episode to an end.”

But the Supreme Court said that the Italian government must start criminal proceedings against the two marines under its jurisdiction immediately and that the Indian authorities would provide evidence in the case.

Italy had argued the marines were in international waters and had fired on the fishing boat because it failed to heed warnings to stay away.

India called it a “double murder at sea” and arrested and charged Girone and Latorre—members of Italy’s elite San Marco Marine regiment—with homicide and arrested.

In 2016, the same tribunal allowed Girone, who had been holed up in the Italian embassy in New Delhi, to return to Italy. Latorre had already returned home two years earlier for treatment after a stroke.

Italy in 2015 took the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, which ruled last year that the marines were entitled to immunity.