Italy today said that a diplomatic row with India over the marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen was ''necessary'' to make sure the men did not face the death penalty.
"The situation is normalising," Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi told La Repubblica daily after Italy's surprise climbdown last night in the row that saw Indian Supreme Court ordering the Italian ambassador not to leave the country.
The marines, Massimiliano Latore and Salvatore Girone, arrested in connection with the killing of the fishermen in February last year returned today along with Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Steffan de Mistura in a military plane.
Justifying their earlier decision not to send back the marines, who were given permission by the Supreme Court to come here to vote in the elections, Terzi said that without buying time for talks by reneging on the pledge to return the pair, "we would not have been able to negotiate the current conditions, which envisage (good) conditions of everyday living and the guarantee that the death penalty will not applied".
The Italian government, which had given an undertaking before the court that the marines will be sent back, had on March 11 sent a note verbale to the Indian government informing it that the two will not be sent back.
On January 18, the apex court had turned down the Italian government's plea that the Indian courts had no jurisdiction in the case and had held that the two marines should be tried by a special court constituted by the government.
The two marines were on board an Italian vessel 'Enrica Lexie' when they allegedly shot dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, last year.