Italy to pay $1.76 million over India fishermen killing: Lawyers

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India will accept compensation of 1.1 million euros (S$1.76 million) from Italy for the families of two fishermen shot dead by Italian marines in 2012, signalling an end to a long-winding case that soured relations between the two nations.

Mr Suhail Dutt, an advocate representing Italy, told India's Supreme Court Friday (April 9) that after prolonged negotiations with the Indian government, Rome was ready to pay 100 million rupees to the families of the fishermen and the owner of the boat which was damaged in the shooting.

India's solicitor-general Tushar Mehta said the victims' families have agreed to receive the "determined compensation amount".

The bench asked the Indian government to deposit the money with the court within a week of receiving it from its Italian counterpart, according to the order seen by AFP. The case will be next taken up on April 19.

The latest order comes after The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague announced last July that the two marines were entitled to immunity from prosecution.

Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre spent years facing charges in India for shooting the fishermen when their boat neared the Italian oil tanker MV Enrica Lexie off the coast of Kerala.

Italy took the issue to the PCA in 2015, saying that the tribunal should hear the case under maritime law as the incident happened in international waters off India's southern coast.

Italy argued that the marines were stationed on the tanker because the region was prone to piracy, and said they had fired on the fishing boat because it failed to heed warnings to stay away.

But New Delhi insisted that the two marines - one of whom was allowed home in 2014 for medical reasons and the other in 2016 - should both return to India for a final judgement by a local court.

The panel ruled that India was entitled to compensation for "loss of life, physical harm, material damage to property and moral harm suffered by the captain and other crew members" of the boat, called the St. Antony.

Rome and New Delhi were invited to consult over the amount to be paid to India.

The detention of the marines, the murder charges and the long wait for the case to be resolved remain sore subjects in Italy.

In December 2014 Rome threatened to withdraw its ambassador from India after a court rejected Latorre's original request for medical leave.