Rome

Italian marines promise to return to India after permit ends

Latorre and Girone say the will honor their words 'as Italians'

Italian marines promise to return to India after permit ends

Rome, December 20 - The two Italian marines being held in India who on Thursday were granted a two-weeks' permit for Italy for Christmas holidays will return to India once their leave is up. In a phone call with former Italian Defense Minister Inganzio La Russa, one of the two Maro' (as the marines are called), confirmed their intention to return to India, where they are awaiting trial for the killing of two Indian fishermen. "Of course we will return," Massimiliano Latorre, one of the marines said, answering La Russa's question as to whether they would return to India, where they have been held since February. "We have only one word and that is the word we give as Italians," Latorre said of the marines' intentions to honor their two week permit. 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 allegedly 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. 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 an anti-piracy mission.

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