Fishermen deaths: SC objects to Italy's compromise with relatives

The Supreme Court has taken objection to the manner in which the Italian government had offered compensation to the families of the two fishermen for them to withdraw their opposition to the release of the Italian vessel Enrica Lexie.

FP Staff April 30, 2012 16:21:51 IST
Fishermen deaths: SC objects to Italy's compromise with relatives

The Supreme court today raised objections to the manner in which the Italian government struck a deal with the relatives of the two fishermen who were shot and killed off the coast of Kerala by two Italian marines.

A bench of justices RM Lodha and HL Gokhale reserved its order on vessel's owner Dolphin Tankers' plea for release of the ship for 10.30 am tomorrow, by which time the Italian government too was asked to file its reply.

Earlier during the two-hour-long argument, the apex court questioned the Kerala government as to why it did not oppose the compromise reached between the families of the deceased fishermen and the Italian vessel's owners, who reportedly paid Rs one crore to each victim's family.

Fishermen deaths SC objects to Italys compromise with relatives

The vessel is still berthed in the Kochi harbour. PTI

Referring to the compromise, the apex court bench said, "This is a challenge to the Indian judicial system, this is impermissible. It is most unfortunate."

The apex court also indicated that it was not in favour of detaining the vessel crew and the two marines unless their presence was required by the investigating authorities.

The bench made it clear that not only the citizens of this country but even foreign nationals, present in the country are entitled to the protection as per Article 21 which grants right to life and liberty to everyone in India.

The court is hearing a petition challenging the seizure of Italian vessel Enrica Lexie by the Indian
authorities after two of its on-board marines allegedly gunned down two Indian fishermen on February 15.

The special leave petition was filed by Enrica's owners, Dolphin Tankers questioning the Kerala High court's order staying the release of the vessel.

Following a compromise reached by the Italian government and the families of the two slain fishermen, the families had decided to withdraw their pleas in a petition before the Kerala High court opposing the release of the Italian vessel. The owner of the fishing boat on which the fishermen were killed has also withdrawn his plea from the Kerala high court.

Ajesh Binki, 25, and Gelastine, 45, aboard fishing boat St Antony, were apparently mistaken as pirates and shot dead on 15 February off Alappuzha by two Italian marines from aboard the cargo vessel Enrica Lexie.

The Supreme Court has also asked the Italian government to file its reply in connection with a plea by the owner of the cargo vessel, Enrica Lexie, seeking that the vessel be allowed to leave from the Kochi harbour. The court is expected to pass orders tomorrow on the plea for release of the ship.

The Italian marines, Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, were picked up from the vessel and sent by a court in Kollam to jail on 20 February on murder charges. They are now lodged in the central prison in Thiruvananthapuram.

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