India's 'tough stand' pushed Italy to send back marines



Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: The two Italian marines facing trial for killing two Indian fishermen last year are headed back to India, the government announced on Thursday night.

As soon as the news came in, Minister of State for Home RPN Singh tweeted, "India's tough stand as articulated by the PM and Sonia Gandhi has worked. Italy sending back its 2 marines to face trial in India."

Italy's refusal to send back the two marines had caused a political storm in India with opposition parties slamming the government for its handling of the issue.

Earlier this week, UPA chairperson and Congress president Sonia Gandhi had termed Italy's refusal to send back marines as "outright unacceptable".

"No country can, should or will be allowed to take India for granted," she had told Congress MPs.

"All means must be pursued to ensure that the commitment made by the Italian government to our Supreme Court is honoured," she said.

"The defiance by the Italian government on the question of the two marines and its betrayal of a commitment to our Supreme Court is outright unacceptable," she had said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had assured that the government would do "whatever needs to be done" to bring back the two Italian marines.

On Thursday night, the office of Italian Prime Minister issued a statement, saying that the marines had agreed to return to India.

The marines -- Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone -- had been allowed by the court on February 22 to leave India to vote in Italian national elections, with the promise that they would return in four weeks to face trial.

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. Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini was restrained by the apex court from leaving India.

(With Agency inputs)