Kerala fishing boat owner to settle issue

The families of two fishermen shot dead by marines onboard `Enrica Lexie` have reached a compromise with Italian authorities.

Kochi: After families of two fishermen shot dead by marines onboard `Enrica Lexie` reached a compromise with Italian authorities, the owner of the boat in which the victims were out for fishing has also agreed to settle the case.

Notwithstanding the criminal case pending against the two marines involved in the case, Italian authorities have offered Rs 17 lakh to Freddy J, the owner of `St Antony` boat, his counsel Raja Vijaya Raghavan said on Thursday.

Freddy is the main witness in the criminal case registered against the marines, Latore Massimilliano and Salvatore Girone, who allegedly fired at the fishing boat off Kollam coast on February 15.

Freddy was the `srank` (captain) of the boat when the incident happened.

A petition seeking transfer of the compensation suit filed by Freddy, now pending before the Kerala High Court, to the Lok Adalat, has been filed in the High Court, Raghavan said.

After accepting the offer of Rs 17 lakh, "we will not pursue the suit filed against the owners of `Enrica Lexi", he said.

Freddy in his original compensation suit had claimed Rs 72 lakh from the ship owners and they had deposited a bank guarantee of Rs 10 lakh in the court.

Raghavan claimed Italian authorities approached Freddy as a "goodwill" gesture and offered Rs 17 lakh, which he accepted, as compensation to settle the case.

On April 24, family members of the deceased -- Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Binki -- reached a compromise with Italian authorities and each accepted Rs one crore compensation.

The High Court had earlier permitted the families to withdraw their contentions made against Italy`s plea for quashing the FIR against the marines.