Two marines spent years in detention in India on charges of murdering two Indian fishermen. A tribunal ruled the marines had immunity but that India could seek compensation from Italy for the loss of life and property.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in the Netherlands said on Thursday that two Italian marines accused of killing Indian fishermen almost a decade ago were entitled to immunity from prosecution in India.
The court had decided the ruling in May, but revealed it this week. The tribunal sided with Italy's case by three votes against two. Italy had approached the international tribunal with the case in 2015.
The PCA said it would continue a criminal investigation into the incident, but India should preclude from "exercising its jurisdiction over the marines."
Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre shot two Indian fishermen off the coast of the Indian state of Kerala in 2012 when their boat came near the Italian oil tanker MV Enrica Lexie.
Italy said the marines shot the fishermen as they thought them to be pirates and had fired warning shots before shooting them. Italy had argued that the marines should be tried in Italy as the shooting happened in international waters.
India had claimed jurisdiction for the case against the marines as it said the shooting happened in Indian waters.
Case strained Italy-India relations
The marines spent years in detainment in India on charges of murder before being allowed to go back to Italy. One marine returned to Italy for medical reasons in 2014 while the second went back in 2016, also for medical reasons.
The case had strained relations between India and Italy to the extent that Rome had threatened to withdraw its ambassador from New Delhi after an Indian court rejected Latorre's initial request for medical leave.
India to receive financial compensation from Italy
The PCA said India was entitled to compensation for "loss of life, physical harm, material damage to property and moral harm suffered by the captain and other crew members" of the Indian boat. The court invited Italy and India to enter negotiations to reach a financial settlement.
Following the ruling, the Italian Foreign Ministry said it was ready to fulfill the terms of the tribunal "with a spirit of collaboration." The ministry said the marines would face trial in Italy.
Anurag Srivastava, the spokesman for India's External Affairs Ministry, said India had taken note of the decision and would be in touch with relevant parties. He revealed that the tribunal had rejected Italy's claim to seek compensation for the time the marines spent in India in detention.
am/sms (AFP, AP)