ucanews.com reporter, Thiruvananthapuram
Updated: September 12, 2014 08:30 PM GMT
India’s Supreme Court on Friday ruled that one of two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in 2012 could return to Italy for medical care.
The ruling follows a decision by the court to relax bail conditions after Massimiliano Latorre suffered a stroke on August 31 and will permit the marine to return to Italy for four months of medical treatment.
Chief Justice RM Lodha said in his judgment that the ruling would take effect only after Latorre filed an “unequivocal and unambiguous undertaking” to return to India after his treatment.
Italian Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini told the court that he would “personally be responsible for the return of the marine who is going to Italy for treatment and would comply with all conditions as deemed proper by the court”.
Latorre, 47, and fellow marine Salvatore Girone, stand accused of killing two unarmed fisherment on February 15, 2012, while they were guarding the Itallian oil tanker Enrica Lexie. The marines said they mistook the fishermen for pirates.
Freddy John Bosco, owner of the vessel on which the dead fishermen worked, opposed Latorre’s request to return to Italy through a petition in the Supreme Court.
Bosco urged the court to have Latorre appear before a medical board from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi to verify his health condition. The plea was rejected.
Bosco told ucanews.com he feared that Latorre would not return to India for trial.
The two marines, currently out on bail and staing in the Italian embassy in Delhi, have been permitted to return to Italy on two previous occasions – for Christmas in 2012 and to cast their ballots in elections in 2013.
The issue has set off a diplomatic row between the two nations. India has insisted on trying the Italians in India, stressing that the victims were Indians on board an Indian vessel.
Italy claims the incident took place in international waters and that the marines should be tried in an Italian court.
The marines could face a 10-year prison term if found guilty. India agreed last month not to charge the men under an anti-terrorism law, which carries the death penalty.