Italy to pay £118,000 to Indian fishermen families

First published in World news

Italy has agreed to pay around £118,000 to each of the families of two dead Indian fishermen allegedly shot by Italian marines who mistook them for pirates, lawyers for the victims’ families have said.

VM Syamkumar, a lawyer for the sisters of slain fisherman Ajeesh Pink, said details of an accord to pay 10 million rupees to each family have been finalised, “but the actual signing is yet to be done”.

The government’s criminal case against the two marines would be unaffected by the settlement and will continue in the courts of the south Indian state of Kerala, lawyers for both families said.

If the settlement goes through, the families would withdraw their civil complaint for compensation against the marines and withdraw requests for criminal action to be initiated against the ship’s captain, the lawyer said.

C Unnikrishnan - lawyer for the widow of slain fisherman Valantine, who goes by one name - said a petition for an out-of-court settlement was filed on Thursday and that he expects the matter to be finalised next Tuesday.

He said the agreement was reached late last week in the presence of a local priest and Pasquale Preziosa, the chief of staff of Italy’s Defence Ministry.

Italian officials have been speaking with the families of the fishermen and their priest for weeks, Italian Consul General Giampaolo Cutillo said. He added that the talks included discussion over a possible monetary settlement, but declined to confirm the amount.

”We wanted to express our condolences and solidarity,” Mr Cutillo said.

Italy will continue its legal fight to get jurisdiction over the case and bring the soldiers back to Italy to face trial, he said. The two men are now in a jail in Kerala.

Mr Pink’s aunt, Janet Mary Koyilvilakom, said she and the dead man’s sisters met with Italian officials and a local priest at the Mascot Hotel in Thiruvananthapuram on Friday April 13.

She said her family initially wanted 20 million rupees, or around £236,000, against Italy’s initial offer of seven million rupees (£83,000).

She said dowry demands in the area are exorbitant and that she hopes to use the money to get Mr Pink’s two sisters wed.

”After the death of Ajeesh Pink, his sisters are in a poor condition,” she said. “I can marry them off with this money.”

Valantine’s son Derrick, 18, said he and his 10-year-old brother have faced financial difficulties since their father died.

”My father was the only earning member in our family,” said Derrick, who hopes to gain a degree in engineering. “This amount is the sole resource for our education and also for the very sustenance of my family in the coming days.”

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