The Italian marine held in India over the killing of two fisherman said on Monday he "could not wait" to return to his native country as a Hague court has ruled pending an international arbitration verdict.
"Hurrah! I can't wait to go home," Salvatore Girone allegedly told friends by phone from New Delhi, where he has been detained without charge by Indian authorities since his arrest in February 2012.
Italian politicians and Italy's chief of defence staff Claudio Graziano welcomed the International Court of Justice in the Hague's ruling that Girone can return to his homeland until the arbitration verdict expected in August 2018 at the earliest.
Nicola Latorre, president of the Italian Senate upper house of parliament's defence commission, hailed the ruling as "a victory for justice" while premier Matteo Renzi earlier called it "a genuine step forward".
Italy's foreign ministry confirmed the Hague court ruling and said it hoped for "a constructive attitude from India", also in the following stages of the arbitration to determine which country has jurisdiction.
Girone and fellow marine Massimiliano Latorre's case sparked a diplomatic incident between the two countries and has strained bilateral ties, prompting Italy to seek international arbitration in June last year.
Latorre and Girone allegedly shot dead the two unarmed fishermen while guarding an Italian oil tanker off the coast of India's southern state of Kerala in February 2012, and claim they thought the fishermen were pirates.
Latorre has been in Italy for the past 18 months, where he had heart surgery after suffering a stroke. He and Girone have not been charged over the fishermen's deaths but were barred from leaving India and were ordered to stay at the Italian ambassador's residence and report regularly to police.