05/03/2016, 12.28
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Widow of Indian fisherman: Let Italian marines return home

Dora Jelastine is the wife of Valentine, mistaken for a pirate by the two Italian marines. Yesterday, the Hague Tribunal decided that Salvatore Girone will return to Italy until the end of the arbitration proceedings. Rome expresses satisfaction, Delhi throws doubt on ruling accusing Italy of "misconstruing the judgment."


New Delhi (AsiaNews / Agencies) - "Let the two marines return safely to Italy. I am not opposed to their release and do not insist that they be condemned and punished”, said Dora Jelastine, the widow of one of the two fishermen killed in 2012 by the Italian navy marines Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre.

The woman intervened in the debate on the case of the Italian marines, one day after the Hague Arbitral Tribunal decided that Girone, for four years in India, will return to Italy during the arbitration process. The judge’s ruling has sparked numerous reactions, welcomed by the Italian authorities, but also criticized by their Indian counterparts who in recent months had remained mostly silent on the developments of the story.

Yesterday, the International Tribunal ruled that Salvatore Girone will spend the arbitration period in Italy, which could "last for two or three years." The arbitration procedure was initiated by the Italian government last June 26, 2015, after repeated delays in Indian jurisdiction.

The case erupted February 15, 2012 off the coast of Kerala, when the two San Marco Battalion marines serving aboard the Italian oil tanker MV Enrica Lexie as security guards, fired on two Indian fishermen, Valentine Jelastine and Ajesh Binki, mistaking their fishing boat for a pirate boat.

The Indian judicial process has suffered several overturned rulings and delays. Initially the case had been taken by a court of Kerala, but in January 2013 it passed into the hands of the Supreme Court, with the task to determine who - between India and Italy - has the jurisdiction of the case (and therefore can prosecute them for murder).

Since then the highest court of the country has repeatedly postponed the sentence, also because of the decision to award investigations to a new antiterrorism agency, later overturned by the Supreme Court's own judges.

In 2014 the Supreme Court allowed Massimiliano Latorre to return to Italy for a period of convalescence, after he suffered from a stroke. Finally, in August last year, the Sea Tribunal in Hamburg, the first judicial body in the arbitration process, ordered Italy and India to suspend all proceedings against the two marines, and acknowledge that the final decision rests with the Hague Court.

The ruling yesterday reopened the hopes of the families of the two sailors and was met with satisfaction by the Italian State. Immediately after the release of the decision, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi phoned Salvatore Girone and announced the "great news". Even the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella spoke of "great satisfaction."

The Foreign Ministry said that the return is dictated by "humanitarian reasons, arising from the fact that Girone had been in India for over four years and may have had to stay another two or three years, taking into account the expected duration of the arbitration proceedings".

After the initial enthusiasm yesterday, the Foreign Ministry today confirmed that the Italian government will have to agree with Delhi on re-entry conditions. The Indian authorities had immediately criticized Italy for "not having correctly interpreted the court order. It is not true that the marine is free: the conditions of his bail must be established by the Supreme Court ".

Today also the Indian Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, spoke of "challenges to the jurisdiction of India." Vikas Swarup, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, said that Girone will remain under the authority of India, will be obliged to stay in Italy and Rome will have to report on his condition every three months. He also stressed that "he will return to India if the Hague Tribunal were to rule in favor of Indian law".

While politically speaking the issue is far from resolved, for the families of the two victims the chapter has long been closed. Dora Jelastine yesterday said: "It's been four years since my husband died. For me it was hard to start over without him, but I'm grateful to the Italian government, which has supported and helped me, even in the education of my two children".

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