NEW DELHI: Taking note of a plea by some fishermen seeking compensation, the Supreme Court Thursday directed the Kerala High Court not to disburse any amount from Rs 2 crore earmarked for the owner of fishing boat 'St Antony' in which two fishermen were killed by Italian marines in 2012.
A bench comprising Justices Indira Banerjee and V Ramasubramanin considered the plea of 10 surviving fishermen, who were also on the fishing vessel, that they too were eligible for the compensation from Rs 2 crore earmarked by the apex court for the boat owner.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta suggested that the fishermen's plea can be sent to the Kerala High Court which is entrusted with the task of disbursing the compensation, to which the bench said a notice to vessel owner Freddy was necessary as any modification in the order will cut down his share.
"The notice of this application be given to the boat owner and in the meanwhile, we request the Kerala High Court not to disburse any amount to the boat owner in terms of the June 15, 2021 order," the bench said in its order.
On June 15, the top court had brought the curtains down on the 9-year old pending criminal proceedings in India against two Italian marines, Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who were accused of killing the two fishermen, after Rs 10 core in compensation was paid by Italy to the heirs of the deceased and the boat owner.
It was directed that Rs 4 crore each would be given to the dependents of two deceased fishermen and the rest Rs 2 crore would be given to the vessel owner. The top court had referred the matter to the Kerala High Court to oversee the disbursement of amount.
In the fresh plea, the 10 fishermen said they were also injured in the incident and hence, entitled for the compensation. The fishermen have sought a stay on the disbursement of the compensation amount till their claims are determined.
In February 2012, India had accused the two marines on board the MV Enrica Lexie -- an Italian flagged oil tanker -- of killing two Indian fishermen who were on a fishing vessel in India's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Latorre, who had suffered a brain stroke on August 31, 2014, was first granted bail and allowed by the apex court on September 12, 2014 to go to Italy for four months and after that, extensions have been granted to him.
In Italy, Latorre underwent a heart surgery after which the top court granted him extension of his stay in his native country. The complaint against the marines was lodged by Freddy in whose vessel two Kerala fishermen were killed when marines opened fire on them allegedly under the misconception that they were pirates.