Italian marine held in India allowed to return to Italy

EPA/GUIDO MONTANI

Massimiliano Latorre (R) and Salvatore Girone (L)

Indian Supreme court decided that Italian marine Salvatore Girone, accused together with Massimiliano Lattore of killing two Indian fishermen, is allowed to go back to Italy but he must return in India if the arbitration panel decides that his trial must take place there


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Italian marine, Salvatore Girone was allowed by the Indian Supreme Court on Thursday to return to Italy, but he is obliged to go back in case a tribunal decides that he must be trialled in India and not Italy.

Massimiliano Lattore returned to Italy after he had a stroke in 2014 and now Girone is expected to return to his home country, on June 2, on the occasion of Italy’s Republic Day national holiday.

Girone, together with Lattore, are accused of killing two fishermen off the Indian coast of Kerala in February 2012. The marines say that they accidentally shot the fishermen, because they mistook them for pirates. Latorre and Girone were part of a military security team protecting a cargo ship. Italy and India now have a jurisdictional dispute between them on where the duo should be tried.

Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi expressed satisfaction with the Indian Supreme Court’s decision. “We confirm our friendship with India, its people and its government,” Renzi said via his Twitter account.

According to ANSA, Girone’s wife, Vania Ardito, changed her whatsapp status to “Enormously happy!!! Finally together!!.” Moreover, Girone’s father told ANSA that he spoke with his son and they are both happy for Girone’s return.

“We spoke quickly but intensely: he’s happy and his morale is better, just like all of ours,” said Michele Girone. “I’m happy…we’re all very happy…now we’re waiting for Salvatore, for everyone to embrace him. The news of his return is really very beautiful and it fills us with joy,” the father added.

Italy referred the case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague last year, and according to Indian newspaper, The Hindu, the arbitration proceedings would take till December 2018 to reach completion.

The tribunal in Hague ruled that Girone should return to Italy and join his comrade Latorre in waiting out the arbitration period in Italy. However, the Hague tribunal stressed that Girone will remain under Indian authority despite his return in Italy, and he is obliged to go back to India “in case the Arbitral Tribunal finds that India has jurisdiction over him in respect of the “Enrica Lexie” incident.”

Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said The Hague court’s allowing Girone back to Italy for the duration of arbitration was “nice news” but the whole case “It’s not over. We’ll have to wait for the outcome of the arbitration, but I’m sure we’ll get the right result.”

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