Tribune News Service
New Delhi, July 2
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague has handed a mixed verdict on the killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines off the coast of Kerala over eight years back.
Delivering the judgment, the PCA agreed with the Indian contention that the marines had broken the freedom of navigation aspect of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and therefore the kin of the killed fishermen were entitled to compensation.
Italy had offered Rs 1 crore compensation in 2012 to the family of each of the killed fishermen. India and Italy will now have to mutually agree on the blood-money and can approach the PCA in case of disagreement.
The PCA also agreed with the Italian argument that the two Italian marines should be tried in Italy and asked the Indian authorities to close the criminal case against them.
Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who declined to appear on behalf of TikTok, had appeared for Italy to secure the passage of the marines from India.
The case had rocked the country’s politics when it emerged in 2012. The UPA government had then taken a hard line in view of the political attacks on its chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who is of Italian origin, and elections in Kerala. The Congress led alliance finally won the poll by a wafer-thin margin.
The UPA government had shown diplomatic displeasure by not sending its ambassador-designate to Rome in order to get the marines back after they had gone to vote.
After they returned, they were allowed to leave for good by the Modi government after Italy blocked India’s entry into the Multilateral Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a prestigious international body.
The marines were on duty on the merchant ship as part of an anti-piracy posse due to rampant hijacking of ships at that time by Somalian pirates. They had fired on a fishing boat off the coast of Kerala, fearing that pirates were trying to attack the merchant vessel.
It remained unexplained why Italian military personnel did not know they were hundreds of kilo metres away from piracy-prone areas.
The arbitration proceedings were instituted after Italy said India did not have the jurisdiction to try the marines but it was open to arbitration.