Wednesday, May 2, 2012

SC allows release of Italian ship Enrica Lexie

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the release of Italian merchant navy ship Enrica Lexie subject to compliance of certain conditions.

The apex court allowed Italian ship Enrica Lexie to be released after the Italian government assurec that it would produce the four naval guards as and when needed as witnesses to the alleged shooting by two other naval guards on February 15.

Two naval guards on board the merchant vessel Enrica Lexie had allegedly opened fire on an Indian fishing boat killing two fishermen off the coast of Kerala.

The Supreme Court has asked the ship owner and Indian agent to furnish an undertaking before the Kerala high court that they would produce in any court or before any lawful authority the crew members of Italian ship as and when their presence was required.

The SC also asked the ship owners to furnish a bank guarantee of Rs 3 crore before the HC. Once the conditions were met, the ship could sail out of Indian waters, the apex court added.

Italian government had taken the position that the shooting incident happened in international waters needing the issue to be resolved by an international fore.

But in the face of serious objections by Union of India and Kerala government, Italy agreed to produce the naval guards.

The SC said the marines have a right to challenge the order of summon in Indian courts.

Meanwhile, the Italian government on Tuesday clarified to the Supreme Court that the compensation paid to the families of killed fishermen was not blood money to save the accused marines from prosecution but international humanitarian assistance to help rebuild their lives.

The SC had on Monday questioned the clause in the agreements with the families of the two killed fishermen and the fishing boat owner which asked them not to participate in any court proceedings related to the cases arising from the February 15 incident.

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