Days after families of the two fishermen killed by Italian marines settled their compensation case after accepting Rs 1 crore each from Italy,the owner of the fishing boat on Friday got a compensation of Rs 17 lakh from the Italian government for his vessel damaged in the firing.
The settlement of the compensation between the Italian government and the boat owner J Freddy in the Lok Adalat of Kerala High Court assumes significance as the murder case against the marines was registered by Kerala police based on the complaint of the boat owner.
Freddy is the prime witness in the criminal case,now under probe. In the settlement pact,Freddy said he had no other complaints regarding the case,but state attorney Raja Vijayaraghavan opined that the boat owners submission would not impact the murder case.
Emerging out of the High Court in Kochi,Freddy softened his stand in the case. He told the media he was not sure whether it was the Italian marines who had fired at his boat. I was sleeping when the incident took place. I came to know about the firing later only.
This was in sharp contrast to his earlier stand that he had seen the firing from the ship 300 metres away from the boat and had warned the other fishermen to lie down to escape the bullets.
The Italian government got in writing from Freddy that he had pardoned the marines and did not want to see them being prosecuted. However,this was outside the settlement deal and not part of the agreement.
Meanwhile,the single Bench of Judge P S Gopinath took strong oral objection to the settlement of the compensation case by the victims families,saying they forgot everything when they got money from the Italian government. The judge observed that the petitioners should be penalized for wasting the courts valuable time.