India

Italy marines 'have immunity' in India fishermen shooting case

Massimiliano Latorre (centre-left) and Salvatore Girone (centre-right). File photo Image copyright AFP
Image caption Massimiliano Latorre (centre-left) and Salvatore Girone (centre-right) have been allowed to return to Italy

Two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in February 2012 are entitled to immunity from prosecution, a court has ruled.

Judges at the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) made the decision by three votes to two.

But the panel also said India was entitled to compensation.

Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre were guarding an Italian oil tanker off the Indian coast and say they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

The high-profile case has strained relations between Rome and Delhi.

The court said the marines should be immune from prosecution in India, but should face trial in Italy.

Italy has argued that the marines fired on a boat carrying the two Indian fishermen after they had failed to heed warnings to stay away from the MV Enrica Lexie tanker off the coast of the south-western state of Kerala.

Rome has also insisted that as the shooting took place in international waters, the men should be tried in Italy.

Meanwhile, India charged the two marines with murder, arguing that it has jurisdiction. But it ruled out using the death penalty if they were found guilty.

The two marines were held in custody in India for several years before being allowed to return to Italy.

In 2015, Italy took the issue to the PCA, the court that deals with disputes between countries and private parties.

The PCA made its ruling in May, but only announced it on Thursday.

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