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SC to order closure of case against Italian marines in India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday said it would pass orders on June 15 on closure of proceedings in India against two Italian marines, accused of killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012, and the disbursal of Rs 10 crore compensation to the heirs of the victims.

Referring to the international arbitral award and the terms of the agreement among India, Italy and the Kerala government, a vacation bench comprising justices Indira Banerjee and M R Shah said the case against marines MassimilanoLatorre and Salvatore Girone for the offences would be now pursued by Italy there.

As per the scheme on disbursal of compensation, the top court was informed by the Kerala government that Rs 4 core each would be given to the heirs of two deceased fishermen and the rest Rs 2 core would be paid to the owner of the fishing vessel St. Antony on which the two were shot dead.

Keeping the plea of the Centre seeking closure of the case here pending for orders on Tuesday, the bench said it was of the view that the compensation money be transferred to the Kerala high court for disbursal and ensuring that the amount does not fritter away.

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).

At the outset, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, told the bench that Republic of Italy has deposited Rs 10 crore with it over and above the ex-gratia paid earlier and the same has been deposited by the Union Ministry of External Affairs with the apex court's registry as directed. There was an award by International Tribunal, which we as a Nation have accepted. The agreement is among Republic of Italy, India and the Kerala government, the law officer said, adding, Now, the question of apportionment of the compensation amount remains and it can be left to the Kerala Government.

The dispute before the international tribunal was as to which country, Italy or India, has the jurisdiction to prosecute the marines and it was decided that both the nations have the concurrent jurisdiction , Mehta said.

But based on facts it was decided that India would not pursue the criminal case and proceedings would be started in Italy, he added.

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