04/25/2012, 00.00
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Kerala: fishermen's families drop charges against Italian marines

The Kerala High Court agrees to the out-of-court financial settlement between the Italian government and the victims' families. Italy will pay 10 million rupees (US$ 189,000) in compensation for each victim. In exchange, the families will withdraw from the court case.

Kochi (AsiaNews) - The families of the two fishermen shot dead in Kerala have withdrawn the civil cases against the marines accused in their death. The High Court of Kerala has accepted the out-of-court financial settlement reached by the Italian government and the victims' families.

In exchange for dropping the charges, the widow and two children of Jelestein, and the two sisters of Ajesh Binki, will receive 10 million rupees (around US$ 189,000) in compensation.

The two fishermen killed off the coast of Kerala on 15 February. Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are the only people accused in connection with their death after the apparently fired at the victims' fishing boat. They were deployed on oil tanker Enrica Lexie as security guards.

The out-of-court financial deal does not mean the end of the criminal case against the two marines. "Only civil cases filed the closest next-of-kin can be settled out of court," said Kerala High Court lawyer Vincent Panikulangara.

On 8 May, Supreme Court will hear arguments over the case's jurisdiction and (perhaps) make a final ruling.

Two days ago, India's highest court agreed to hear Italy's argument that Kerala does not have jurisdiction over the case.

This came after India's central government told the court that Keralan police had no jurisdiction to detain the Italian ship or investigate the incident because it had occurred beyond India's territorial waters. (GM)


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