Italian marines to return to India

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 22, 2013 13:25 hrs

The two Italian marines, who were accused of shooting to death two Indian fishermen in Kerala last year, will return to India on Friday to face trial here.

Italy on Thursday said it would send the two marines to India to face trial in accordance with the Supreme Court´s deadline for their return, that ends on Friday.

"Indian authorities have given us a written assurance that the marines will be treated well, and that their rights will be respected," the Italian government said in a statement on Thursday.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Friday said he will make a statement in the Parliament on the issue.

Khurshid told reporters: "The return of the Italian marines shows that diplomacy works."

"I will share the developments that took taken place between the two nations in the Parliament," he said.

Reacting to the Italian government´s decision, Minister of State for Home Affairs RPN Singh tweeted: "India´s tough stand as articulated by the PM and Sonia Gandhi have worked. Italy sending back its 2 marines to face trial in India."

MEA official spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted: "Following diplomatic contacts #Italy informed that Marines will return to #India in accordance with timeline provided to Supreme Court."

"Intensive diplomatic contacts in last 24 hrs led 2 #Italy informing that Marines will return as per time line set by Supreme Court of #India," he said.

The marines are likely to reach India soon.

The Supreme Court on Feb 22 had allowed the two Italian marines- Salvatore Latorre and Massimiliano Girone-to travel to Italy to cast their votes in the country´s elections.

Italian envoy in India Daniele Mancini had given an undertaking to the Supreme Court that he would ensure that the two marines returned to India after they were allowed to go to Italy for taking part in the voting in that country.

Italy later said they will not send them back to India for trial.

Accusing Indian authorities of violating international rights by detaining the marines, Italy´s Foreign Ministry said it was "open" to let an international arbitrator to assess the case.

They said India had not responded to Italian requests to seek a diplomatic solution to the case and there was now a "dispute" between the two countries over the terms of the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea.

On Feb 15, 2012, the security officials of Italian cargo vessel Enrica Lexie allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen mistaking them as pirates in the high seas off Ambalapuzha in Kerala. They- Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone- were subsequently arrested.

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