Italy gets jurisdiction over marines in Indian killing but must pay compensation

FILE PHOTO: Italian marines Salvatore Girone (R) and Massimiliano Latorre leave the police commissioner office in the southern Indian city of Kochi January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo/File Photo

Italy should compensate India for damages incurred by the shooting of two fishermen by Italian marines off the coast of India in 2012, but India has no jurisdiction over the men, the Permanent Court of Arbitration said on Thursday.

The court based in The Hague said it was up to India and Italy to decide the amount of compensation warranted in the so-called Enrica Lexie case, which soured relations between Rome and New Delhi. The two marines were held in custody in India for several years as local prosecutors pressed murder charges.

Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre were arrested in February 2012 for shooting the two fishermen. They said the killings were accidental, as they mistook the fishermen for pirates and fired warning shots while on duty on the Italian oil tanker “Enrica Lexie” off the southern Indian coast.

Girone and Latorre were later allowed to return home pending the resolution of the dispute between the two states, which was handed over to the Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague.

The court’s decision that the men should face trial in Italy, instead of in India, was hailed as a victory by the Italian foreign ministry.

“Italy’s arguments have prevailed after long years of (legal) battles. Our two soldiers, Italian officials who were carrying out their duties, are immune from foreign justice,” Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio wrote on Facebook.

However, the court ordered Italy to pay compensation to India “for loss of life, physical injuries, material damage to the vessel and moral harm suffered by the commander and crew of the fishing vessel.”

Italy said it would now resume its own criminal proceedings on the case.