As Italy reversed its decision of not sending back its two marines, government today said India has given assurances to that country that they will not face death penalty and will not be liable for arrest if they return by the deadline of today set by the Supreme Court.
Hours after Italy made the announcement that the marines will return to face trial, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told Parliament that India had given assurances after clarifications were sought on death penalty which was a "concern" to that country.
Making identical statements in both Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, he expressed happiness that the matter was being "brought to a satisfactory conclusion" and the trial will now proceed as per the directions of the Supreme Court.
Khurshid said the government was informed through "a diplomatic approach" that Italy would be willing to send the two marines back to India as per its commitment to face trial in the case of killing two fishermen in February last year.
"It sought from India clarifications regarding the conditions applicable to the marines on their return and the provisions regarding the death penalty that could be applicable in this case which was an Italian concern.
"Notwithstanding the pending proceedings, the Government has informed the Italian Government that the two marines will not be liable for arrest if they return within the time frame laid down by the Supreme Court of India," he said.
The Supreme Court had allowed the marines to go to their home country for four weeks to cast votes in general elections. The four-week period expires today.
India also allayed Italy's fears by saying that "according to well settled Indian jurisprudence, this case would not fall in the category of matters which attract the death penalty, that is to say the rarest of rare cases. Therefore, there need not be any apprehension in this regard," Khurshid said.