Kochi: A special aircraft has landed in Kochi this morning with top Italian officials to take back the two Italian Marines charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen in February this year. The rare exemption was made by the central government after the Kerala High Court allowed them to return home for Christmas.
Sources at Kochi airport said the special aircraft sought permission to take off late in the evening today. The Italian diplomats and officials are certain that they would be able to abide by the directives of the Kerala High Court.
The two Marines, Lattore Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, shot dead two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki and Gelastine, on February 15, allegedly taking them for pirates, and were arrested four days later. They have been staying in a hotel in Kochi after being granted bail in the case.
Yesterday, the Kerala High Court allowed the two Marines to go home for Christmas, but with riders. The court said the Marines could be allowed to go, provided they return latest by 3 pm, January 10, 2013, and the Indian government allows them to go. It also asked for a bank guarantee of Rs.6 crore.
The court ruled that the Indian government should agree to allow them to return to Italy for Christmas, and ensure that the Italian government assured that the two would return to stand trial in India.
Italian officials today accompanied the two Marines to the Kollam Magistrate Court to deposit the Rs.6 crore in bank guarantee. An affidavit from the Italian government said it would ensure that the two Marines returned to Kochi by January 10 next year and get the clearance of the Indian government.
Once it is satisfied that all conditions are met, the Kollam court is expected to release the passports of the two Marines.
The Italian consul general expressed happiness that the central government has taken up this case, and that the judiciary extended this gesture to the two men.
"Yes, the two Italian Marines will return after they spend Christmas at home," said the Italian consul general to reporters in Kochi.
Meanwhile, in the Kerala assembly, Leader of Opposition VS Achuthanandan came down heavily on the Centre and said the state government should appeal against the court verdict relaxing bail conditions for the two Marines.
"Your party has been adopting double standards all along, like in FDI in retail. Look what has been done concerning the relaxation of bail conditions of the Marines. This generosity is shown to the Italian Marines, but our own Abdul Nasir Maudany (jailed Peoples Democratic Party leader facing trial in Bangalore) does not get justice and he is an under-trial prisoner for many years now," Mr Achuthanandan said.