(Adds background, Napolitano comment)
ROME, March 21 (Reuters) - Two Italian marines accused of
killing two Indian fishermen while on anti-piracy duty will
return to India on Friday, the Italian government said,
reversing a previous decision not to send them back to face
trial after a home visit.
"The Italian government requested and received written
assurances from the Indian authorities regarding the treatment
of the marines and the protection of their fundamental rights,"
the government said in a statement.
The Italian Foreign Ministry sparked fury in India earlier
in March when they said the marines, Salvatore Girone and
Massimiliano Latorre, would not return to India after being
granted home leave to let them vote in last month's election.
India's Supreme Court subsequently ordered the Italian
ambassador not to leave the country, escalating the stand-off
and spurring European Union foreign policy chief Catherine
Ashton to warn that India was violating international law.
The marines, part of a military security team protecting
the tanker Enrica Lexie from piracy, are accused of shooting
dead two fishermen in February 2012, apparently after mistaking
them for pirates in waters off the southern Indian state of
Girone and Latorre said they fired warning shots only.
They were detained in India to face trial, but the Supreme
Court allowed them to go home for four weeks to vote in a
parliamentary election on Feb. 24-25, provided they returned to
India by Friday.
Italian President Giorgio Napolitano called Latorre to tell
him and Girone that he "appreciated the sense of responsibility
demonstrated in their acceptance of the government's decision",
according to a statement.
Napolitano assured the two marines that the Italian state
would be "by their side in the path that awaits them" and that
he hoped for "a correct recognition of their point of view".
(Reporting by Catherine Hornby and Steve Scherer; editing by