Italy welcomes India’s release of marine

Rome, May 26 (IANS/AKI) Italy on Thursday praised a ruling by India’s Supreme Court allowing Salvatore Girone, a marine facing trial for the killing of two fishermen, to return home until an international arbitration verdict on the case.

“The foreign ministry expresses satisfaction over today’s decision of the Indian Supreme Court to immediately enforce The Hague Court of Arbitration’s decision of April 29, as recently requested by Italy,” said a statement.

Girone will arrive back in Italy from India on June 2, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi announced. “Welcome home to our rifleman Girone, who will be with us on 2 June,” Renzi said in a tweet.

“We confirm our friendship with India, with its people and its government,” the tweet said.

The government vowed to comply with the terms and conditions for Girone’s return laid down by India’s apex court after consultations between the two countries in recent weeks, the Italian foreign ministry said.

The Hague Court of Arbitration on April 29 said Girone’s bail conditions should be “relaxed” enabling him to return to Italy until the court’s verdict over jurisdiction in the case, which is not expected before August 2018.

Girone and fellow marine Massimiliano Latorre’s case dates back over four years. It sparked a diplomatic incident between India and Italy and has strained bilateral ties, prompting Italy to seek international arbitration in June last year.

Latorre and Girone allegedly shot dead the two unarmed fishermen while guarding an Italian oil tanker off the coast of India’s southern state of Kerala in February 2012, and say they thought the fishermen were pirates. Italy claims India does not have jurisdiction in the case as the incident took place in international waters during an United Nations backed anti-piracy mission.

Latorre has been back in Italy for the past 18 months, where he had heart surgery after suffering a stroke. He and Girone have not been charged over the fishermen’s deaths but were barred from leaving India and were ordered to stay at the Italian ambassador’s residence and report regularly to police.

–IANS/AKI

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