x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Dh33,000 compensation for the life of Dubai US Navy shooting victim

The US has agreed to pay compensation to families of the fishermen who were shot by the US Navy off the UAE coast.

Muthu Kannan, centre, with Murugan, left, and Kumaresan who were all on the fishing boat that was fired upon by the USNS Rappahannock.
Muthu Kannan, centre, with Murugan, left, and Kumaresan who were all on the fishing boat that was fired upon by the USNS Rappahannock.

DUBAI // The family of an Indian fisherman shot dead by the US Navy last month expect a compensation payment of 500,000 rupees, or Dh33,000.

The compensation from the US government would match the Tamil Nadu state government in India's payment to the dead man's family, and about Dh3,300 each for the three men injured in the attack.

"We understand that this humanitarian ex-gratia payment does not prejudice the final outcome of the investigation, which is under way in the United States," Syed Akbaruddin, joint secretary at the Indian ministry of external affairs, said yesterday.

A Sekar was killed and the other men were treated in hospital after the USNS Rappahannock, an oil supply vessel, opened fire on the Emirati fishing boat on July 16. Eight crew, two Emiratis and six Indians, were on the boat.

The US Navy said it opened fire because the fishing boat was heading towards it at speed, and failed to respond to repeated warnings.

The fishermen say there were no warnings.

"The US embassy has kept us informed of their decision to provide what they term as a solatium to the next of kin … and also to the families of three other Indian nationals who were injured in the incident," said Mr Akbaruddin.

He would not reveal the amount or when it would be paid. "The details of these are best revealed by the US embassy rather than by us because they have worked out these details in consultation with, I think, the government of Tamil Nadu."

Blood money set by a UAE court is usually Dh200,000.

One of the injured men, Muthu Kannan - who was discharged last week from Rashid Hospital in Dubai - said the compensation would barely cover the men's medical bills. The other two who were injured, Muthu Muniraj, 28, and Pandu Sanadhan, 26, continue to recover at the hospital.

"My wife informed me of the US government's decision," said Mr Kannan, who sustained bullet wounds to his buttocks and leg and minor injuries to his lower lip.

"It will hardly cover my medical bills when I go back to India. I am not sure when I can go back to work. My children have to study and I am the only earning member of the family. I don't know how I will manage."

The US embassy in New Delhi did not respond to queries about the compensation.

The Indian embassy said yesterday it would pay Mr Kannan Dh2,500 for food and accommodation expenses. Two other fishermen, Kumaresan and Murugan, who escaped without injury, will also receive Dh1,500 each for their expenses. The fishermen can return to India once the UAE's investigations into the incident are complete.

pkannan@thenational.ae