Fishermen killing: Italian marines to return to India today
New Delhi: The two Italian marines facing trial for killing two Indian fishermen last year will arrive in India by Friday.
On Thursday evening, External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said in a tweet post, "Following diplomatic contacts #Italy informed that Marines will return to #India in accordance with timeline provided to Supreme Court".
"The two sailor will start tonight (Thursday) for India," the Italian government said in a statement.
"The Italian government requested and received written assurances from the Indian authorities regarding the treatment of the marines and the protection of their fundamental rights," the government said in a statement.
Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini had given an undertaking to the Supreme Court that marines - Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone - would return to India by March 22 after voting in the elections.
But on March 11, the Italian embassy informed India that they would not be sending the marines back to face trial, leading to a diplomatic standoff with Italy. The ambassador was restrained by the apex court from leaving India.
Earlier on Thursday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, along with Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Steffan de Mistura jointly assessed the Italian position on the issue.
"In light of the assurances received, the Government has considered the opportunity, in the interests of Fusiliers Marina, to maintain the commitment made at the permission to participate in the vote back in India by March 22," the statement said.
"The marines agreed to this decision," it added.
Last week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh termed as "unacceptable" Italy's refusal to send its two marines back to India and said the issue will be taken up with that country.
India had withheld posting of its Ambassador-designate Basant Kumar Gupta to Rome and the Indian government had said further steps will be taken after completion of the review of bilateral ties with Italy.
On January 18, the apex court had turned down the Italian government's plea that the Indian courts had no jurisdiction in the case and had held that the two marines should be tried a special court constituted by the Centre.
It had directed that the two be shifted to Delhi and would remain under its 'custody' till the special court is set up.
The Italian marines were on anti-pirate duty aboard cargo ship Enrica Lexie off India's coast in Kerala last year in February when they shot the two fishermen, mistaking them to be pirates.