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Court allows Italians to go home for Christmas
By AM Abdussalam / Ashraf Padanna December 21, 2012
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KOCHI: Two Italian marines, facing trial in connection with the shooting at sea resulting in the deaths of two Indian fishermen, would be able to visit their families back home for Christmas festivities as the High Court on Thursday relaxed their bail conditions and allowed them to leave the country and return on Jan. 10, 2013.

The duo were out on bail since May but were not allowed to leave the jurisdiction of Kochi Commissioner of Police.

The court in its order said that if the undertaking given by the Italian Ambassador to India that it would ensure the marines return to India after Christmas is acceptable to the central government, it was acceptable to the court also.

The single bench also imposed additional conditions on the accused, Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone.

Judge P. Bhavadasan relaxed the bail conditions and said the marines should “pledge a bank guarantee for Rs60 million and should return to Kochi on or before Jan. 10.”

The court has also asked the Italian authorities to furnish the addresses, mobile numbers and movement details of the marines to Kochi Police Commissioner. The ministry of external affairs had informed the court earlier that appropriate undertaking given by the ambassador and consul-general of Italy to the court may be given due consideration, in view of the “excellent relationship between India and Italy.”

Director General of Prosecution T. Asaf Ali, appearing for the state government, had opposed the petition by the marines on the ground that they were unlikely to return to India once they get back to Italy.

Consequently the trial would be sabotaged.

 “Italy has no intention to meddle with the Indian judicial system. The (Italian) ambassador has given an assurance...that the government would ensure the return of the accused,” lawyer P. Udhayabhanu, who represented the marines, submitted before the court.

Last week, Italy’s defense minister Giampaolo Di Paolo arrived in Kochi by a chartered aircraft only to meet the marines, stepping up pressure on India to let the men return home for Christmas.

“Nobody more than India understands the value of celebrating Christmas. So you understand how much we want them to go back, to be with their families and parents,” he had said.

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