The Kerala High Court on Thursday allowed Italian marines Latore Massimillano and Salvatore Girone to celebrate Christmas with family in Italy. They are out on bail in connection with the killing of two Indian fishermen off Kollam coast in Kerala in February.
However, the reprieve came with certain preconditions. The marines will have to return to Kochi before 3 pm on January 10, 2013, and furnish a bank guarantee of Rs 6 crore. Issuing the order, Justice Bhavadasan said the marines will also be required to submit their mobile numbers, addresses and details of their movement to the Kochi police commissioner.
The court said the Centre should permit the two Italian nationals to leave the country only after they meet the conditions. Besides, the Centre should elicit an assurance from the Italian government that the marines will return within the stipulated time, before the duo flies to Italy.
Reacting to the court order, Girone said: “It is a moment of great joy. A great Christmas present has been given by the court.”
The Italian government, which has been working on facilitating the marines’ Italy trip, has given an undertaking to both the Indian government and the High Court, assuring that the marines will be under its supervision during their stay in the country and return to India adhering to the court order. The External Affairs Ministry had submitted an affidavit before the court, stating that due respect be given to the Italian government’s assurance while considering the marines’ plea.
However, Kerala has always been sceptical about the marines travelling to Italy. It was apprehensive that once home, the marines may not return for the trial. In his submission, Kerala Director General Prosecution T Asaf Ali had strongly opposed the move to allow the duo’s trip to Italy. He had suggested that the families be flown to Kerala instead.