The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague on Thursday said India is entitled to get compensation in the Italian marines case but can’t prosecute them. The two Italian marines are accused of shooting down two Indian fishermen in Kerala in 2012. In a statement the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said India has won the Italian marines case at the international tribunal.
As per the Tribunal’s ruling, the two Italian marines were held violating international law and as a result Italy breached India’s freedom of navigation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
The Tribunal said India is entitled to receive compensation from Italy for the for loss of life suffered by it. However, the Tribunal also said the two marines can’t be prosecuted in India because they enjoy immunity as they were officers of the State.
The Italian Marines cases was being heard at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) at The Hague. The final hearing in the case was heard last year in July.
The Tribunal was constituted under Annex VII of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on June 26, 2015. This was based on Italy’s request in respect of the dispute concerning the shooting incident of February 15, 2012, involving Italian tanker ‘Enrica Lexie’ and Indian fishing vessel ‘St. Antony’.
WHAT IS THE ITALIAN MARINE CASE
This case involves two Italian marines–Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre–who were accused of shooting two Indian fishermen off India’s southern Kerala coast in 2012.
The major bone of contention between India and Italy was on the question of jurisdiction. While India argued that it had jurisdiction over the case as the fisherm
Meanwhile, on the other hand, Italy had argued that the shooting took place outside Indian territorial waters (a claim challenged by India) and its marines were on-board a ship with Italian flag. Hence, Italy argued, it enjoys the jurisdiction.
The Italian contention was also that they were in international waters and acted to protect an Italian oil tanker as part of an anti-piracy mission.
WHAT THE INTERNATIONAL TRIBUNAL RULED
The Tribunal has upheld that the actions of the Italian military officers and, consequently, Italy breached India’s freedom of navigation under UNCLOS Article 87(1)(a) and 90.
In regards to the question of jurisdiction, the Tribunal observed that India and Italy had “concurrent jurisdiction” over the incident and a valid legal basis to institute criminal proceedings against the Marines.
The Tribunal rejected Italy’s claim to compensation for the detention of the Marines.
However, the Tribunal has ruled that the two marines accused of shooting two Indian fishermen enjoy immunities that are enjoyed by State officials. As such, this acts as an “exception to the jurisdiction of the Indian courts”. As a result, Indian courts can’t judge their case.
Besides this, the Tribunal took note of Italy’s commitment that it will resume its criminal investigation into the events of February 15, 2012.
For India, the Tribunal has decided that it is entitled to payment of compensation in connection with loss of life, physical harm, material damage to property and moral harm suffered by the captain and other crew members of ‘St. Antony’, the Indian vessel.
The Tribunal also held that the two sides are invited to consult with each other with a view to reaching agreement on the amount of compensation due to India.
The Tribunal also decided that it shall retain jurisdiction should either Party or both Parties wish to apply for a ruling from the Arbitral Tribunal in respect of the quantification of compensation due to India.
en killed were Indian, and hence the case must be tried as per Indian laws.
Read Extracts of the Award: