05:45 GMT03 August 2021
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    In February 2012, two Italian marines were accused of killing two fishermen off the coast of India’s Kerala. At the time, the Kerala High Court ruled in favour of prosecuting the accused in the state but the Italian marines successfully challenged the decision in the Supreme Court.

    On Tuesday, the Supreme Court of India closed a criminal case against two Italian marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, who were accused of shooting dead two unarmed fishermen nine years ago.

    In its final ruling, the court said that the killings were “accidental” because the Indian fishermen were mistaken for pirates – the Italian marines said they fired warning shots and killed them by accident.  The soldiers were on duty on the Italian oil tanker "Enrica Lexie" at the time.

    As part of the case, Italy earlier deposited compensation of over $1.3 million to the Central Indian government. The Indian Supreme Court directed the federal government to transfer the sum to the Kerala state government.

    Out of the total compensation, INR 40 million ($545,790 approx.) will be given to the families of the killed fishermen, and INR 20 million ($272,900 approx.) to the owner of the boat whose property was damaged in the accident.

    "We are satisfied with the compensation and the ex-gratia paid over and above earlier," Indian media quoted the Supreme Court as saying.

    In a bid to ensure that the money reaches the designated people, the Apex Court has asked the Kerala High Court to appoint a judge to oversee the transactions.

    Paolo Gentiloni, a European Union commissioner, expressed relief at the verdict of the Indian Supreme Court on Twitter.

    “The case with India is closed. A success of Italian diplomacy,” Gentiloni tweeted in Italian, along with a link to the Supreme Court’s verdict.

    ​In 2020, The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration weighed in on the matter, saying that India had no jurisdiction to carry out criminal proceedings against the Italian marines. The court also ordered Italy to pay the compensation.

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