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EU applauds India decision to permit marines' Xmas return

Ashton 'committed' to following case

EU applauds India decision to permit marines' Xmas return

Brussels, December 21 - The European Union applauded an Indian tribunal decision to permit two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen a two-week permit to be able to spend the Christmas holidays in Italy. "The EU takes a very favourable view of the court of Kerala's decision to allow the two Italian marines to return home by Christmas, and is still committed to following the case, in full support of the Italian authorities, whilst awaiting for the verdict", Catherine Ashton, the EU's High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said in a statement. 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. The 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. India's Supreme Court has repeatedly put off giving a verdict on the case's jurisdiction and last week the Indian government said it would be at least another three months before a ruling was handed down. The Kerala high court, which had put off a decision on the permit several times, demanded a bond of 60 million rupees, over 826,000 euros, for the temporary release to be effective.

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