Italy drops case against marines who killed fishermen in Keralatext_fields
Rome: Stating that there was not enough evidence for trial, a Rome judge on Monday dismissed a murder investigation into two Italian marines who killed two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in 2012.
In a statement, Italian Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini welcomed the "positive outcome" for Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre.
News agencies said it followed an assessment by prosecutors last month that there was not enough evidence for a trial.
"This brings to an end a years-long event during which the defence ministry has never left the two marines and their families on their own," Guerini said.
Earlier in June, 2019, the Supreme Court had put an end to all legal proceedings against the Italian marines in India after nine years of twists and turns.
The apex court had ruled that the Italian government will prosecute the two Italian Marines, as per international arbitral award.
This case involves two Italian marines--Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre--accused of shooting two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012, under the misconception that they were pirates.
After a legal saga that has dogged relations between Rome and New Delhi for almost a decade, India in April 2021 accepted a compensation offer of Rs 100 million (Rs 10 crore).
Quashing the case in June, the Supreme Court had ruled that Rs 40 million (Rs 4 crore) each would be given to the families and the remaining Rs 20 million (Rs 2 crore) to the owner of the boat used by the fishermen.
But it said that the Italian government must start criminal proceedings against the two marines under its jurisdiction immediately and that the Indian authorities would provide evidence in the case.
Italy had 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" and arrested and charged Girone and Latorre -- members of Italy's elite San Marco Marine regiment -- with homicide.
Italy in 2015 took the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague, which ruled last year that the marines were entitled to immunity.
In 2016, the same tribunal allowed Girone, who had been holed up in the Italian embassy in New Delhi, to return to Italy. Latorre had already returned home two years earlier for treatment after a stroke.