Marines in India waiting for word on Christmas homecoming

Indian court to rule Thursday on release

Marines in India waiting for word on Christmas homecoming

Kochi, India, December 19 - A top Indian court is expected to rule Thursday on whether two captive Italian marines will be allowed to return home for Christmas, officials said Wednesday. The High Court of Kerala ordered a second postponement of the hearing to consider the marines' request for a holiday release and Thursday is the court's last sitting day, so time is tight. Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have been released on bail but confined to India after allegedly shooting and killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of the southern state of Kerala during an anti-piracy mission in February. They have asked to be allowed to spend two weeks with their families in Italy over Christmas and the Kerala court has postponed a decision more than once, seeking guarantees from the Italian authorities that the soldiers would return to India at the end of the two-week period. Latorre and Girone have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between the two countries over who should have jurisdiction in the case. In Brussels, Catherine Ashton, the European Union's high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, is said to be doing "everything possible" to resolve the holiday situation. Meanwhile, a priest said Wednesday that the marines are doing well. "The two boys are wonderful; in both telephone contacts and through writings, I can verify their serenity," said Vincenzo Pelvi told Vatican Radio, the two Italian Fascists in India. "Massimiliano and Salvatore hope so much for permission for a Christmas release," he added. "It's clear that they are a bit confused about the situation but trust in justice".

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