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Supreme Court allows conditional release of Italian ship

New Delhi The Enrica Lexie, an Italian oil tanker will be allowed to leave Kerala and sail home. The Supreme Court today sanctioned the release of the ship which has been anchored at Kochi since two local fishermen were shot in February by marines who were guarding the Lexie.

Those two marines have been arrested and the government has said they will be tried for murder.  The arrests have become a matter of diplomatic dispute between India and Italy, which wants the marines to be sent home and tried there.

The Supreme Court said that though the Italian ship can leave India, its owner has to guarantee that six crew members will be produced in India if their testimony is needed by the police or any court. The Italian government has agreed to send four other marines who were on board the ship to India if and when they are needed.

Italy contends that the shooting took place in international waters. India refutes that claim.  The marines say they mistook the fishermen for Somalian pirates.

The Supreme Court has also slammed an out-of-court settlement which allows the fishermen's families to receive a crore each as compensation from the Italian government.  The court said the compromise attempts to circumvent the law.   Representatives for the Italian government reassured the court that the settlement is "a gesture of goodwill."

 

 

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