ROME — The Italian government said on March 21 it would return to India two Italian marines that New Delhi is seeking to try on charges of killing two Indian fishermen.
The marines are accused of shooting the fishermen as they guarded an Italian flagged merchant vessel from pirates in the Indian Ocean in 2012.
The men were arrested by Indian authorities but allowed to return to Italy in February to vote in a general election on condition they return. The Italian government at first decided not to deliver the men, claiming they should face justice in Italy because the incident occurred in international waters.
Explaining the surprise decision to return the marines, the Italian government said it had received guarantees from India that their “fundamental rights” would be respected.
Italian Foreign Undersecretary Staffan De Mistura said New Delhi had promised the men would not face the death penalty.
The men, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, will live at the Italian Embassy in New Delhi, officials said.
The move follows diplomatic pressure from India. On March 14, India’s top court told Italy’s ambassador not to leave the country without its permission after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned Italian authorities to “keep their word,” and promised fall-out for bilateral relations if they did not.