Italian marines case: India entitled for compensation, but cannot prosecute

Enrica Lexie marines violated international law, but the case not in jurisdiction of Indian courts, says International Tribunal.
Accused marines of Italian Merchant Vessel Enrica Lexie
Accused marines of Italian Merchant Vessel Enrica Lexie
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An international tribunal dealing with the killing of two Indian fishermen in 2012 by two Italian marines has held that the two marines had violated international law and thereby Italy breached India's freedom of navigation under UNCLOS Article 87(1)(a) and 90.

The tribunal has also stated that India is entitled to be compensated for the “loss of life, physical harm, material damage to property and moral harm suffered by the captain and other crew members of the Indian shipping vessel St Antony.”

In a significant setback to India however, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague said that the two marines, Latorre Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, cannot be tried in India.

“.. the immunities enjoyed by the marines as State officials operate as an exception to the jurisdiction of the Indian courts and, hence, preclude them to judge the marines,” Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava cited the tribunal to have said.

On the affirmative side, the tribunal has upheld the conduct of the Indian government under the provisions of the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea).

The Tribunal has also rejected Italy's claim of compensation for the detention of the marines.

The tribunal further adds that both the countries can consult each other to reach an agreement over the compensation amount that should be given to India.

MEA officials have said that India will be tracking the issue of being awarded the compensation.

In the sensational incident which happened on February 15, 2012, two Tamil Nadu native fishermen --  Jelestin and Ajeesh Pinku -- who set off to sea in a mechanised fishing boat from Kerala coast in Kollam district, were shot dead by the Italian marines.

Two Italian marines who were in charge of security of the Italian Merchant Vessel Enrica Lexie are the accused in the case. Latorre Massimiliano, chief commander of the six-member security unit on board is the first accused and Salvatore Girone is the second accused.

In 2012, a chargesheet was filed against them in Kochi under IPC section 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 427 (Mischief causing damage) read with Section 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the IPC and Section 3 of the SUA Act (Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation and Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, 2002).

The verdict is by the Arbitral Tribunal constituted under Annex VII of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on June 26, 2015 on the request of Italy in respect of the dispute.

(With inputs from PTI)


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