In the name of Jesus – One crore Rupees out of court settlement!

published on April 24, 2012

Kin to withdraw from cases against Italians
VR JAYARAJ | KOCHI    – The Pioneer

Legal heirs of the two Indian fishermen killed in gunfire from aboard Italian oil tanker Enrica Lexie off the Kerala coast on February 15 will withdraw from the cases they have been pursuing against the accused Italians as per the terms of an out-of-the-court settlement of the compensation issue by accepting the Italian Government’s offer of Rs 1 crore each.

Relatives of the two murdered fishermen, Valentine alias Jelestine (48) and Ajesh Binku (25), also signed an agreement with Italy on the settlement of compensation at the Lok Adalat in Kochi on Tuesday. A representative of the Italian Government handed over to the Lok Adalat the drafts for the compensation amount to be given to the relatives.

On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court permitted the murdered fishermen’s relatives to withdraw the affidavits and submissions they had made against Italy’s plea to quash the FIR registered against the two accused Italian Marines. Justice PS Gopinathan allowed a petition filed by the families’ counsel stating they were not going ahead with their pleadings and submissions.

They stated in the agreement that they were not interested in going ahead with the proceedings on the FIR registered by the Neendakara Police in Kollam against the two Marines. They had impleaded themselves in the petition filed by Italy and the two Marines challenging the murder charges against them, opposing the Italians’ plea.

Legal experts said the development would not affect the criminal cases related to the killings but expressed concern that things were perhaps not going in the right direction. The withdrawal of the fishermen’s relatives from cases had come just after the pro-Italy submission by Additional Solicitor General Harin P Raval in the Supreme Court, they pointed out.

“As such, the agreement between the fishermen’s relatives and Italy might not cause any disruption to the criminal case related to the killings. However, Italy is likely to use the withdrawal of the relatives from the cases to supplement its arguments in the plea seeking withdrawal of the FIR against the Marines,” said a senior lawyer of the Kerala High Court.

As per the agreement, Dora Valentine, widow of Jelestine, and children Derrick and Jean would get Rs 33,33,333 each and Abhinaya and Aguna, sisters of Ajesh Binku, would receive Rs 50 lakh each. The Lok Adalat took up the compensation row for settlement as per the instructions given by the Kerala High Court last Friday.

They also informed that they pardoned the two Italian Marines arrested for the murders and were praying now that they might join their families at the earliest. Italian Marines Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, arrested on February 19 on murder charge, are presently in judicial custody at the Central Prison in Thiruvananthapuram.

There were also reports that representatives of the Italian Government had already reached an agreement with the owner of the boat, St Antony’s, on which the two fishermen were engaged in fishing activities on February 15 when they were killed in gunfire from aboard the Italian oil tanker. The Italians’ effort was to settle the dispute by giving Rs 17 lakh to the boat owner.

At the same time, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked the Italians for an explanation for approaching the Supreme Court seeking cancellation of the FIR against Marines Massimiliano and Girone when the High court itself was about to pronounce its verdict on a petition with the same request.

The counsel for the Italians replied that this was done because the case was of extreme importance as it involved issues of relations between two sovereign countries. However, the High Court, which had heard the case in detail taking several weeks, did not express satisfaction at the Italian reply.

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