KOCHI: The fishermen unions in Kerala on Friday opposed the move by the Union government to withdraw the case against the two Italian marines accepting the compensation offered to the victims.
The Supreme Court on Friday observed that the criminal cases pending against marines Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, who gunned down two Indian fishermen off Kollam coast in Kerala, can be closed only after Italy deposits Rs 10 crore as compensation for the families of victims.
“We are of the opinion that the marines should be tried under the Indian law as the crime occurred in Indian waters. Though the families of the victims have accepted the compensation following the intervention of the Church, the case should not be withdrawn. The government has to ensure the safety of Indian fishermen and they should be tried under the Indian law to avoid such incidents in future,” said Kerala Traditional Fishermen Association president P V Janardhanan.
Coordination Committee of Fishermen Unions said the Union government, which has a responsibility to ensure the safety of Indian fishermen, has bowed under pressure from Italy. “The stand of the Union and state governments that the case can be withdrawn if compensation is provided cannot be accepted. The trial for murder should continue to ensure that such incidents do not happen in future,” said state president Charles George.
However, the family of Valantine Jalastine, one of the fishermen who was shot dead by the Italian marines, said they have given the consent to end the case accepting compensation as the case was dragging. “I don’t personally feel that the case should be withdrawn. But we had signed the consent letter. I was writing my Plus-II board exams when my father was shot dead by the marines on February 15, 2012. Our family was devastated and we struggled to survive. My mother Dora was given a job in the fisheries department which helped me complete my BTech course. My brother has completed his degree course. Italy has provided us a compensation of Rs 1 crore,” Derik, son of Valantine Jalastine, told TNIE.
The Kerala government has proposed `4 crore each to the families of the two fishermen. Freddy John Bosco, owner of St Antony, the boat destroyed in the incident will get `2 crore as compensation.
“I was ruined after the incident and could not return to my job as the captain of the fishing boat. In 2016, I started a textile shop. I gave the consent to end the case as the compensation will help me settle my liabilities,” Freddy said.
ENRICA LEXIE CASE
Valantine Jalastine and Ajesh Binki on board fishing boat named St Antony gunned down by two Italian Marines on board oil tanker M V Enrica Lexie around 20 nautical miles off Kollam
Indian Coast Guard intercepts ship and detains the marines
Kerala police slap murder charges on the marines and arrest them
Case taken over by the NIA
Marines allowed to return to Italy
Italian government argues fishing vessel had approached close to the ship and marines fired mistaking it as a pirate attack
2015 Italy approaches International Tribunal for Law of the Sea
Aug 24, 2015 Tribunal directs both countries to suspend all court proceedings
July 2019 Matter reaches Permanent Court of Arbitration
May 2020 Court orders that marines will face criminal proceedings in Italy, not India
July 2020Centre informs SC that it has accepted the tribunal order and wants to dispose of proceedings against marines