ROME

A judge on Monday dropped the case against two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen 10 years ago, an incident that caused major frictions between Rome and New Delhi.

Rome pre-trial judge Alfonso Sabella ruled there was not enough evidence to bring to court the case against marines Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre. Prosecutors had reached the same conclusion last month.

In 2012, Latorre and Girone were on anti-piracy duty on an Italian oil tanker. As it was cruising off the southwestern Indian state of Kerala, the marines fired their guns as a fishing boat was coming in the tanker’s way.

Two out of the 11 people aboard the fishing vessel were killed. The marines said they thought they were dealing with pirates after the fishermen ignored warnings to stay away from the tanker.

The Italians were taken ashore to Kerala and arrested for murder, while Italian authorities clamored for their release, claiming that the incident happened in international waters and implicated foreign troops on official duty, thus enjoying legal immunity.

Latorre and Girone were eventually allowed to return home while Indian criminal proceedings remained pending.

The case was taken to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, which ruled in 2020 that the marines should face trial in Italy but also that India was eligible for compensation from the Italian government.

In June 2021 the Supreme Court in New Delhi closed the Indian case, confirming that Italy had paid compensation to the tune of 100 million Indian rupees ($1.34 million).

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