Italy offers Rs. 1 crore to kin of dead fishermen

The legal heirs of the two fishermen killed by marines aboard the Italian-flagged ship, Enrica Lexie, told the Kerala High Court on Friday that a settlement for paying a compensation of Rs. 1 crore to each bereaved family was reached between the Italian government representatives and them.

Counsel for the legal heirs made the submission before the court while seeking its permission to place the settlement before the Permanent Lok Adalat for legal approval. The Italian government filed a petition seeking to implead itself as a respondent in the admiralty suits filed by the legal heirs for compensation for facilitating the settlement process.

Justice A.M. Shafeeq allowed both petitions.

The agreement produced before the court, signed by both parties, said the Italian government agreed to pay the amount as a mark of mutual respect and as a gesture of international goodwill existing between the two sovereign friendly states and on account of the utmost sympathy towards the legal heirs on humanitarian and compassionate grounds. A “without-prejudice offer” was made to the legal heirs in the form of a one-time full and final ex-gratia payment of Rs. 1 crore so as to enable the first party (legal heirs) to rebuild their lives.

The agreement said the legal heirs agreed that such a “without-prejudice offer” did not fasten on the Italian government, its citizens, and instrumentalities, the two naval marines or other defendants in the admiralty suits, and its officers, employees, agents, subsidiaries, affiliates … any liability whatsoever on account of the unfortunate and untimely demise of the fishermen.

The legal heirs had agreed to approach the court, including the High Court, for unconditionally withdrawing the other legal proceedings and all allegations in them. The agreement said the Italian government and its instrumentalities or Italians in the admiralty suits did not in any manner waive any immunity available to them under the law and did not in any manner submit to the jurisdiction of Indian courts.

The court ordered that the case be posted before the Lok Adalat on April 25.

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