Kochi, Dec 20: The Kerala High Court Thursday ruled that the two Italian Marines charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in February can be allowed to go home for Christmas.
The court had caveats too: the marines could be allowed to go provided they return latest by 3 p.m., Jan 10, 2013, and the Indian government allows them to go. A bank guarantee of Rs. six crore should also be furnished.
The court ruled that the Indian government should agree to allow them to return to Italy for Christmas, and see that the Italian government offered an assurance that the two would return.
The Kerala government had strongly opposed any sort of relaxation, allowing the two to leave Kochi.
The state government had said that there was no guarantee that once they reach Italy, the two will return after Christmas to stand trial in India.
Wednesday, while the counsel of the centre said that the court can decide on what needs to be done, the Italian foreign affairs department had said it would ensure that the marines are brought back after Christmas.
CPI-M politburo member M.A. Baby expressed surprise at the stance taken by the centre.
"Everyone knows that these two marines are murderers. Time will tell if there was any conspiracy behind what has happened now. Just look at what is happening to Abdul Nasir Maudany (Muslim political leader from Kerala who has spent a decade in jail without being convicted) languishing in jail in Bangalore and he is seriously ill, as he faces trial. For Maudany, there is no respite, but for the Italian marines, who are culprits, it is otherwise. No Indian with any self respect can accept allowing the two to celebrate Christmas at home," Baby said.
Charles George, a leader of fishermen in the state, said allowing the marines Christmas at home had become a matter of pride for Italy, though it was "shame for India".
"Who does not know that the centre played its cards in favour of the Italians," George said.
The two marines submitted a petition last week to be allowed to go home for Christmas. Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, who were granted bail May 30, had sought relaxation in their bail conditions that specify that they have to submit their travel documents and not leave the Kochi police commissioner's jurisdiction.
Massimillano and Girone, who are out on bail and staying in a hotel here, were allegedly involved in the killing of two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki and Gelastine, Feb 15.
The marines mistook the fishermen for pirates and fired at them off the Alappuzha coast.
The two were deployed as the security crew aboard the Italian cargo vessel Enrica Lexie.