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Italian marines return to India

Last updated on: March 22, 2013 20:19 IST

Italian marines return to India

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The two Italian marines -- - Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Giron -- facing trial for killing two Kerala fishermen returned to India on Friday evening, just within the deadline set by the Supreme Court.

They flew down to New Delhi after Rome's dramatic turnaround on its stand that the naval officers will not be sent back. The duo returned on a special Italian Air Force plane along with Italy's Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mustura.

They will be taken to the Italian embassy after which de Mistura is expected to meet Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid to work out the modalities of their surrender to Indian authorities.

"There is no deal with Italy. We have just clarified to them based on legal opinion," Khurshid told PTI on India's assurance of no death penalty to marines accused of killing two fishermen from Kerala.

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Image: Italian sailors Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone
Photographs: Sivaram V/Reuters
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The Supreme Court had allowed the marines to return home last month based on the written assurance by the Italian ambassador in New Delhi that that they would return within four weeks. The marines had returned from a similar trip home over Christmas last year.

But this time, after the marines flew home, the Italian government had said they would not be coming back, triggering a diplomatic standoff.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who had earlier taken a strong stand against the Italian's refusal to send back marines, today said he was happy that the "integrity and dignity" of the Indian judicial process has been upheld.

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Image: The marines have been taken to the Italian embassy
Photographs: Reuters
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Relieved by Italy's decision, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said it clearly established the fact that no country can question the sovereignty of India.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid credited the government's diplomacy for the return of the marines to face trial in the killing of two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast last year.


Photographs: Reuters
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