ROME (AFP) – All legal proceedings have been dropped in India against two Italian marines who shot and killed two fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012, Italy’s Foreign Minister said yesterday.
“All legal proceedings in India against our two marines… have been closed,” tweeted Luigi Di Maio. “It definitively brings this long episode to an end.”
The shelving of the case comes two months after India said it was prepared to accept compensation of INR100 million rupees (EUR1.1 million), from Italy for the families of the two fishermen, following prolonged negotiations.
Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre were accused of murder for shooting the unarmed fishermen while protecting an Italian oil tanker as part of an anti-piracy mission off the southern Indian coast.
While Italy argued the marines were in international waters and had fired on the fishing boat because it failed to heed warnings to stay away, India called it a “double murder at sea” in which one fisherman was shot in the head and the other in the stomach.
The long-running case that soured relations between both countries, each of which claimed jurisdiction, made its way to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, which helps resolve disputes among states.
Last year, the PCA ruled that the marines were entitled to immunity in the case.
In 2016, the same tribunal allowed Girone, who had been living in the Italian embassy in New Delhi, to return to Italy. Latorre had already returned home two years earlier for treatment after suffering a stroke.
Both marines were members of Italy’s elite San Marco Marine regiment.