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Italian Marines return to Kochi

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Italian Marines return to Kochi
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Kochi: Setting at rest speculation about their return, the two Italian Marines, facing murder charges, arrived here this morning after celebrating Christmas with their families, with Rome hoping their return would help find a "positive solution" to the case.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who were allowed to go home for two weeks by the Kerala High Court on December 20, arrived by a chartered flight at 7.50 AM.

Italian Consul General in India, Giampaolo Cutillo, told reporters at the airport that the marines have returned after Christmas holidays. "This is a good opportunity to say that we are back."

On December 22, the marines had left for Rome after the Kerala High Court permitted them to go for Christmas for two weeks.

"We had committed, the Italian Foreign Ministry had personally committed to let the two marines back at the end of the special permission and this commitment which was based on the honour of Italian Government, of the Italian Armed forces and of the Italian diplomacy, has been kept".

"So I am sure the people of India and people of Kerala will appreciate the importance of this gesture, which we have done in good faith and I am sure this will help find a positive solution to this case," the diplomat said.

Media personnel were present in strength at the nearby Nedumbassery Airport, but the two marines were whisked away to the office of Kochi City Police Commissioner. The marines then proceeded to Kollam court where they will surrender their passports.

The marines were arrested on February 19 last for shooting to death two Indian fishermen -- Ajesh Binki (25) and Jelestine (45) from onboard merchant vessel 'Enrica Lexie' off Alapuzha coast, 'mistaking' them for Somali pirates.

Stringent conditions had been laid down by the Court, which had asked them to return by January 10. The Kollam Sessions Court had asked them to be present for the trial on January 15.

The Italians had also executed Rs six crore bank guarantee as directed by the High Court while allowing them to leave.

Kerala Government had opposed the marines' plea in the High Court by saying it was a ruse to "smuggle them out" and would "torpedo" the ongoing trial.

PTI

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