HC to deliver judgement on Italian marines case on Dec 20

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Italian Marines
Kochi, Dec 19: Kerala High Court will pass orders tomorrow on the plea of two Italian marines, facing a criminal trial for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen, to permit them visit their country to celebrate Christmas.

After hearing arguments from state government, which strongly opposed the plea for the second day, and the petitioners counsel, Justice P Bhavadasan posted the case to tomorrow for orders.

Earlier, state Director General of Prosecutions T Asif Ali said the state government cannot accept the undertakings given by the Italian Ambassador in India Giacomo Sanfelice in connection with the return of the two marines after celebrating Christmas in their country.

"Italy is hobnobbing and joining hands with the accused right from the inception of the case. Their words cannot be believed at all," he said.

"If for want of accused, trial is torpedoed, it will be a wrong signal," he said, adding the credentials of Italy was under "doubt and under suspicion".

When Justice P Bhavadasan asked Ali pointedly whether the state accepts the undertakings, he replied in the negative. To another query, Ali said the two marines would never come back for trial.

Counsel for the petitioners P Vijay Bhanu said Italy was not a terrorist nation. "We will not do anything to interfere with the trial. Our credibility is at stake," he said.

Italian Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola, during his recent visit to Kerala, had not approached the Chief Minister or others as the bail conditions have to be relaxed by the court, he said.

Assistant Solicitor General V Parameshwaran Nair submitted a letter to the court sent by the Italian Foreign Minister and pleaded that its contents not be disclosed as they are classified.

The ASG also said that the undertaking given by the Italian consulate will be given due consideration. The Italian Ambassador and Consul General in India Giampaolo Cutillo were present in the court.

The two marines -- Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone -- were arrested from the Italian vessel 'Enrica Lexie' on Feb 19 for allegedly shooting down two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast, "mistaking" them to be pirates.


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