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Hague court orders Italian marine home from India

02 maggio 2016 | 13.52
LETTURA: 3 minuti

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An Italian marine accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012 can return home until the international arbitration verdict in the case, a court in the Hague has said in a ruling to be made public on Tuesday.

Italy's foreign ministry on Monday confirmed the International Court of Justice's ruling on Salvatore Girone, reported by the national news agency ANSA, welcoming it as "good news".

Rome and New Delhi would agree "on the conditions for his [Girone's] return" the ministry said in a statement on the ruling, which reportedly calls on both sides to agree on the procedure and timing of Girone's return.

Italian premier Matteo Renzi said on Monday the Hague court's ruling was "a genuine step forward which we have worked very hard for".

"I have spoken to Girone, who will be able to return to Italy pending the outcome of international arbitration," Renzi said.

"I want to send a message of friendship and cooperation to the great Indian people and prime minister [Narendra] Modi," he added.

The case of Girone and fellow marine Massimiliano Latorre has strained Italy's relations with India and sparked a diplomatic incident between the two countries.

The marines allegedly shot dead the two unarmed fishermen while guarding an Italian oil tanker off the coast off India's southern state of Kerala in February 2012, and claim they thought the fishermen were pirates.

In a bid to end the long-running legal dispute, Italy took the case to international arbitration last June and the Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled in August that India had no jurisdiction in the case, referring it to the International Court of Justice.

Latorre has been in Italy for the past 18 months, where he had heart surgery after suffering a stroke. India's Supreme Court ruled last week he could remain in his homeland until 30 September for medical treatment, although Italy rejects India's jurisdiction in the case.

Girone and Latorre 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.

The arbitration verdict in the case is not expected before August 2018.

Rome claims the marines are immune to prosecution since they were serving on a United Nations-backed anti-piracy mission and the oil tanker they were guarding was in international waters at the time of the incident.

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