Special aircraft to fly Italian Marines home

A special aircraft landed here on Friday morning with top Italian officials to take back the two Marines.

Kochi: A special aircraft landed here on Friday morning with top Italian officials to take back the two Marines who have been allowed by a ruling of the Kerala High Court to return home for Christmas.

The rare exemption came thanks to the Central government.

Sources at Kochi airport said the special aircraft sought permission to take off late in the evening on Friday. The Italian diplomats and officials are certain that they would be able to abide by the directives of the Kerala High Court.

The Kerala High Court ruled on Friday that the two Italian Marines charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in February can be allowed to go home for Christmas.

The court had caveats too: the Marines could be allowed to go, provided they return latest by 3 pm, January 10, 2013, and the Indian government allows them to go. A bank guarantee of Rs 6 crore should also be furnished.

The court ruled that the Indian government should agree to allow them to return to Italy for Christmas, and ensure that the Italian government assured that the two would return to stand trial in India.

Italian officials on Friday accompanied the two Marines to the Kollam Magistrate Court to deposit the Rs 6 crore in bank guarantee. An affidavit from the Italian government said it would ensure that the two Marines returned to Kochi by January 10, 2013, and also get the clearance of the Indian government.

Once it is satisfied that all conditions are met, the Kollam court is expected to release the passports of the two Marines.

The Italian consul general expressed happiness that the Central government has taken up this case, and that the judiciary extended this gesture to the two men.

"Yes, the two Italian Marines will return after they spend Christmas at home," said the Italian consul general to reporters here.

Meanwhile, in the Kerala Assembly, Leader of Opposition VS Achuthanandan came down heavily on the Centre and said the state government should appeal against the High Court verdict relaxing bail conditions for the two Marines.

"Your party has been adopting double standards all along, like in FDI in retail. Look what has been done concerning the relaxation of bail conditions of the Marines. This generosity is shown to the Italian Marines, but our own Abdul Nasir Maudany (jailed Peoples Democratic Party leader facing trial in Bangalore) does not get justice and he is an under-trial prisoner for many years now," Achuthanandan said.

Lattore Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, the two Marines, have been staying in a hotel in Kochi after being granted bail in the case.

They shot dead two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki and Gelastine, February 15, allegedly taking them for pirates.