Indian court agrees to Xmas permit for Italian marines

Pair accused of killing two Indian fishermen

Indian court agrees to Xmas permit for Italian marines

Kochi, December 20 - The high court of the Indian state of Kerala on Thursday granted two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen a two-week permit to be able to spend the Christmas holidays in Italy. Marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between Italy and India after they allegedly shot fishermen Jelestine Valentine and Ajesh Binki during an international anti-piracy mission off the southern Indian coast in February. They pair, who alleged mistook the fishermen for pirates and face charges that include homicide, were released from detention on bail in June, but were confined to Indian territory. The Kerala high court, which had put off a decision on the permit several times, demanded a bond of 60 million euros, over 826,000 euros, for the temporary release to be effective. "We heard about the news with great relief," said Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi. "It's a demonstration of India's sensibility for the deeply felt values of the Italian people regarding the important Christmas holidays, which the marines will be able to spend with their families". Italy believes it should have jurisdiction over the case as it took place aboard an Italian merchant ship that the marines were guarding. Rome also argues that the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India as they were military personnel working on on an anti-piracy mission. India's Supreme Court has repeatedly put off giving a verdict on the case's jurisdiction and last week the country said it would be at least another three months before a ruling was handed down.

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