Return of naval guards upholds dignity of judicial process, PM says

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 22, 2013 08:14 hrs
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New Delhi: Welcoming Italy's decision to send back its naval guards, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Friday that their return would be in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court and consistent with the dignity of the judicial process in India.

"We are happy with the outcome. I welcome the return of Italian naval guards," Manmohan Singh told reporters as the naval guards accused of killing two Indian fishermen headed back to stand trial in India.

"The Italian naval guards are coming back in accordance with the direction of Supreme Court and it is consistent with the dignity of judicial process in India," he said.

The external affairs ministry announced that the Italian government had informed it that the naval guards would return.

On March 11, Italy informed India that the naval guards — who had been allowed to go home by the Supreme Court on February 22 following an undertaking by the Italian envoy — would not be sent back, leading to a diplomatic stand off. The ambassador was restrained by the apex court from leaving India for reneging on his word.

The naval guards, posted aboard oil tanker MV Enrica Lexie on security duty, had on February 15, 2012, opened fire at a fishing boat off the coast of Kerala, suspecting it carried pirates. Two fishermen, Ajesh Binki and Gelastine, were killed in the firing.

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