Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday granted bail to two Italian marines accused of shooting dead two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15.
The court granted bail to Latore Massimilliano and Salvatore Girone on a surety of Rs one crore each. Also, two Indians will have to stand as surety for the Italians. The court also directed them to not leave the jurisdiction of the Kochi Police Commissioner, till further orders.
The Italian government has also assured the court that the accused will not flee from the country, tamper with evidence or intimidate the witnesses, reports said.
They will now stand trial under Sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 427 (causing damage or loss) and 34 (acting in common intention).
The Kerala government had earlier opposed the bail pleas of two Italian marines arguing that if they are released on bail at this stage, their presence cannot be procured.
However, in a softening of stand, the state government today said that strict conditions be imposed on the marines if they were to be granted bail.
The marines had contended that they had not committed any offence as alleged by police and that there was no justification in continuing their custody.
The High Court had earlier termed the shooting as `cruel` and `brutal` and hence it can be inferred that they (marines) did so on their own. "Shooting cannot be said to be an act of sovereign function and the marines are not entitled to sovereign immunity," it said.
Earlier, their bail plea was rejected by a lower court in Kollam.
The naval guards onboard Italian oil tanker `Enrica Lexie` were arrested on February 19 and charged with murder of fishermen Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Binki, who took to sea from Neendakara in Kollam, after they fired at them apparently mistaking them for pirates.
The marines, lodged in central prison, Thiruvananthapuram since March 5, were recently shifted to Borstal school, which houses juvenile delinquents, in Kochi.