2012 Kerala fisherman killing case: No Indian court can't try Italian Marines, says international tribunal

An International Tribunal has ruled under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea that no Indian court can try Italian Marines in the 2012 fishermen killing case as they enjoy immunity by virtue of their official status.

The marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, were arrested in February 2012 for shooting two fishermen. They said the killings were accidental, as they mistook the fishermen for pirates and fired warning shots while on duty on an Italian oil tanker off the southern Indian coast. (The marines were held in jail in Kerala.)

However, the tribunal upheld the conduct of Indian authorities with respect to the incident, and said New Delhi is entitled to get compensation in the case.

The issue of jurisdiction over the case became a big bone of contention between the two countries. While New Delhi maintained that the incident happened in Indian waters and also that the fishermen killed were Indian, and hence the case must be tried as per its laws, Italy claimed that the shooting took place outside Indian territorial waters and its marines were on board the ship with an Italian flag.

An MEA spokesperson said the tribunal observed that India and Italy had "concurrent jurisdiction" over the incident, even as it rejected Italy’s claim for compensation over the detention of the marines.

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