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'First let Italy pay compensation': SC says can't think of relief to Italian marines before hearing victims' kin

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the central government, submitted before the Supreme Court that it wanted to withdraw the prosecution in India against two Italian marines as Italy is likely to prosecute them there.

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'First let Italy pay compensation': SC says can't think of relief to Italian marines before hearing victims' kin
Italian marines - Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone -- allegedly killed two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala on February 15, 2012
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The Supreme Court on Friday said that it cannot think of granting any relief to the two Italian marines, who are accused of killing Indian fishermen in 2012 off the coast of Kerala, until the victims` families are paid proper compensation.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the central government, submitted before the apex court that it wanted to withdraw the prosecution in India against two Italian marines as Italy is likely to prosecute them there.

A three-judge bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Sharad Arvind Bobde, said that it will not pass any orders without hearing the family of the two victim fishermen.

The Solicitor General told the apex court that Italian marines have filed a petition seeking quashing of the case in India. On this, the CJ-led bench asked how the Centre can move the apex court for a closing case in India instead of filing an application in the trial court for withdrawal of prosecution.

"Victims' families are also party in trial court. They should also get a chance to respond. You must pay adequate compensation to the victims' families," the bench said. 

"Let Italy pay them proper compensation first," the court said, asking Mehta to file an application seeking impleading of families of victims within a week.

"We cannot think of any relief for marines till their prosecution is not withdrawn in Kerala court," the bench said. 

Mehta responded by saying that the central government is willing to file a petition for withdrawing prosecution against the two marines.

"But the family of victims will have a problem. They will have to be heard," CJI Bobde said.

"First let Italy pay them compensation. Only then we will allow withdrawal of prosecution. Bring the cheques and the kin of victims here," the bench said. 

The court then asked the Solicitor General to file an application seeking impleadment of families of victims within a week. The next hearing will take place after a week. 

Earlier, the central government had sought the closure of the case before the Supreme Court submitting that it had accepted the order of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague in the Netherlands.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration had in July given its decision saying that the Italian marines - Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone -- will not be tried in India and had ruled that India is entitled to claim compensation from Italy.

It had observed that the marines had violated international law and, as a result, Italy breached India`s freedom of navigation under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

On February 15, 2012, two Indian fishermen were killed off the coast of Kerala by the two Italian marines on-board the Italian-flagged commercial oil tanker MV Enrica Lexie. 

(With ANI inputs)

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