India told Italy marines do not face death sentence: minister

Last Updated 22 March 2013, 11:12 IST

Italy is sending two marines to India to stand trial for murder after assurances they would not face capital punishment, Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said in an interview out today.

"It is our view that there are no longer the concerns that we had before," Terzi told La Repubblica daily, a day after the government said they were being sent back in a surprise move.

"The agreement with India is that the case does not include any possibility of the maximum punishment being applied," Terzi said.

He also said they would be assured "conditions for daily life in the country", without elaborating.

The decision "was based on mutual respect between our two countries, as the United Nations has repeatedly called for," the minister said.

He conceded however that there had been "different sensibilities between ministers" at the cabinet meeting, yesterday, that took the decision.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were granted special leave last month by an Indian court to return to Italy to vote in elections but had skipped bail with the government's support.

But the cabinet yesterday said in a stunning turnaround that it now planned to respect the court-mandated leave and they would return.

The two are accused of having shot dead two Indian fishermen they mistook for pirates off the Indian port of Kochi last year. They were serving as security guards on an Italian oil tanker.

Italy insists the marines should be prosecuted in their home country because the shootings involved an Italian-flagged vessel in international waters.
India says the killings took place in waters under its jurisdiction.

(Published 22 March 2013, 11:12 IST)

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