The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed Italian marine Salvatore Girone, accused of killing Indian fishermen off Kerala coast, to return to his country. The second accused in the case went back home in 2014.
The Centre backed Girone’s plea to go back to Italy four years after his arrest, saying he should be granted relief on humanitarian grounds.The Italian ambassador will have to give an undertaking to the court that the marine, who is out on bail and lives in the embassy complex in Delhi, will be back when asked.
The arrest of the two marines after the shooting death of two Kerala fishermen on February 15, 2012 has strained ties between the two countries, with Italy demanding the sailors’ release.Massimiliano Latorre, the other accused, went back to Italy after a stroke in 2014. The court has extended his stay to September 30.The court had on May 23 agreed to hear Girone’s plea for easier bail conditions after the UN’s permanent court of arbitration in The Hague ruled that he be allowed to go home till the dispute was resolved.
Italy and India have been making contrary claims over the right to prosecute the marines.
Italy claims the deadly shooting took place in international waters, so the sailors should be tried at home. India says the fishermen were killed in its waters.The arbitration proceedings would be completed by December 2018, the Centre had earlier told the court, which stayed all criminal proceedings in the case till the jurisdictional issue was settled.The marines say they mistook the fishermen for pirates and opened fire.