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UN court seeks bail for Italian marine in Indian jail

Rome/New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) A UN court has said Italian marine Salvatore Girone, jailed in India for the alleged 2012 killing of two fishermen, should be allowed home on bail even as the arbitration proceedings in The Hague carry on.

According to the foreign ministry in Rome, the ordinance by the international tribunal “does not affect the continuation of the arbitration proceedings” to decide on the Italian government’s plea that it is their jurisdiction and not that of India to proceed against the accused.

Girone and fellow Italian marine Massimiliano Latorre allegedly shot dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012, reportedly mistaking them for pirates.

While Latorre is already back home on health grounds, Italy has been seeking Girone’s return also.

But India has refused to let Girone, who is housed in the Italian embassy premises in New Delhi, to leave the country.

The case has triggered a diplomatic row between India and Italy even as the two countries last year agreed to move to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague and abide by its decisions.

Italy argues that the marines should have immunity as they were servicemen working on a mission and that India does not have jurisdiction as the incident took place outside its territorial waters.

The foreign ministry said the ruling, which is expected to be officially announced on Tuesday in The Hague, comes after “a constructive attitude of India”.

The court, according to the ministry, has asked both Italian and Indian governments to agree on the date and modalities of Girone’s return home.

It said it would get in immediate contact with the Indian government to make sure Girone returns home as soon as possible.

But official sources in New Delhi said the order by the arbitral tribunal “clearly recognises that Girone is under India’s authority alone”.

“(The) tribunal order affirms Supreme Court of India’s authority,” a source said, adding that the order has asked India and Italy to approach “the Supreme Court for relaxation of bail conditions for Girone”.

The sources said Girone’s possible return to Italy was “strictly conditional” on the government in Rome “guaranteeing to return him if required” for court proceedings in India.

Girone’s father Michele said “I am incredibly happy” to hear about the news “if true”.

“Now I will have to speak to my son and daughter-in-law to see whether it’s true,” the father was quoted as saying by the ANSA news agency.

Italy took the case to the international tribunal after repeated delays in the handling of the case in India. New Delhi allowed Latorre to return to Italy for treatment after he had a stroke in 2014.


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