01/04/2013, 00.00
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Italian Marines return to India. Their lawyers call for “an end to speculation "

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have returned their passports. Consul General of Italy: "We have full confidence in the Indian judicial system." On January 15, a new hearing in the court of Kollam on the charge of murder, but Supreme Court ruling on jurisdiction still pending.

Kochi (AsiaNews) - The Italian marines Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre have returned to India after a Christmas leave granted in mid-December by the High Court of Kerala. "With this gesture - said their lawyers in India - we hope to put an end to speculation about their good will." The soldiers departed late afternoon yesterday from Rome on a special flight and landed this morning at 7:50 (local time) in Kochi. On arrival they handed over their passports to the Kollam procurator general, and returned to living under probation. As required by the High Court of Kerala, Italian authorities had paid a deposit of 60 million rupees (about 828 thousand euro) for the special leave for the Italians.

The news of the two sailor's return to India made the headlines of Indian papers today. The granting of the license had provoked different reactions. For the Government of Kerala, the return to Italy threatened to "torpedo" the whole trial, and appeared to be a diplomatic shortcut to close the affair. Perhaps to dispel these doubts, the Consul General of Italy Giampaolo Cutillo stressed today the "full confidence of Italy in the Indian judicial system." "I'm sure - he added - that the people of Kerala and India will look back at this as a gesture that demonstrates the good relations between our two countries."

On January 15, the next court hearing takes place in Kollam, where the charge of murder of two Indian fishermen hangs over their heads.  The two fishermen were killed off the coast of Kerala February 15, 2012. However, the hearing is almost formal character: the soldiers are sill waiting for the Indian Supreme Court to rule on the jurisdiction of the case. If the first court in the country determines that the incident occurred in international waters, the two marines would be acquitted of all charges in India and could return to Italy, where they would be put on trial in Rome.


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