Fishermen killing: Ready for out of court settlement? asks HC

Kerala High Court on Tuesday asked the owner of Italian Merchant Vessel Enrica Lexie and the families of the two fishermen allegedly killed by the marines whether they were willing for an out of court settlement for determining the compensation.

A division bench comprising justices Thothatil B. Radhakrishanan and C. T. Ravikumar posed the question on a petition filed by the fishermen's families complaining of inadequacy of the bank guarantee amount directed by a single bench.

While Doramma wife of Valentine Jalastine had sought a compensation of Rs 1 crore, the sisters of Ajeesh Binki, another fishermen had approached the High Court for Rs 2 crore relief.

The owner of the fishing boat, Freddy has also sought Rs 75 lakh compensation for the damage caused to his boat.

The single Judge had ordered the ship owner to submit a bank guarantee of Rs 25 lakhs each for the families of the two killed and Rs 10 lakh for the damage caused to the boat.

The Court also wanted to know who had ordered the firing and who was incharge of the marines who were providing security to the vessel.

The bench also directed that the ship, now berthed in Kochi, shall not leave till a decision is taken on the issue of compensation.

The marines Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Gironi have been arrested and charged with murder for allegedly shooting the two fishermen dead on February 15 off Kollam coast, an incident that has led to a diplomatic row between India and Italy, which is making hectic efforts for their release.

The accused have contended before the court that Kerala police has no authority to conduct an investigation in the case and courts in India have no jurisdiction as the incident had occurred beyond the Indian territorial waters.

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