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News updated at 8:58 AM IST

Marines to fly home in spl aircraft

Kochi/ New Delhi, Dec 21, 2012, DHNS & Agencies: 0:26 IST

Centre allows Italians to join their families for Christmas

: Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre (R) and Salvatore Girone come out of the office of the police commissioner in Kochi on Thursday. The marines are accused of shooting two Indian fishermen. PTI Photo
A special aircraft landed in Kochi on Friday morning with top Italian officials to take back the two marines who have been allowed by a ruling of the Kerala High Court to return home for Christmas.

The rare exemption came thanks to the Central government, which allowed them to leave India for two weeks.

Sources at Kochi airport said the special aircraft sought permission to take off late Friday evening. The Italian diplomats and officials are certain that they would be able to abide by the High Court directives.

The High Court ruled on Thursday that the two Italian marines charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in February can be allowed to go home for Christmas.

Conditions

The court set conditions: the marines could be allowed to go, provided they return latest by 3 pm, January 10, 2013 and the Indian government allows them to go. A bank guarantee of Rs 6 crore should also be furnished.

The court ruled that the Indian government should agree to allow them to return to Italy for Christmas, and ensure that the Italian government assured that the two would return to stand trial in India. The Central government, in principle, decided to allow the two Italian Navy personnel to go home for two weeks during Christmas.

“We took a very responsible and objective stand when asked by the court. We could not have taken any other stand. If a foreign government and its foreign minister presents a document, a request and a guarantee to the court of our country, we can hardly say don’t take it seriously,” External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told journalists on Friday. He was responding to a question if the government took a soft stand in the court on the petition of the marines. He also said if India would not have taken the stand in the Kerala High Court, it would have been in violation of the international understanding.

Guarantee

Italian officials on Friday accompanied the two marines to the Kollam Magistrate Court to deposit Rs 6 crore in bank guarantee.

An affidavit from the Italian government said it would ensure that the two marines returned to Kochi by January 10, 2013, and also get the clearance of the Indian government. Once it is satisfied that all conditions are met, the Kollam court is expected to release the passports of the two marines.

The Italian consul general expressed happiness that the Central government had taken up this case, and that the judiciary extended this gesture to the two men.

“Yes, the two Italian marines will return after they spend Christmas at home,” the Italian consul general told reporters.

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