Accepting the marines' plea for relaxation of bail conditions, the court allowed Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre to visit their homeland for a maximum of two weeks but stressed that the duo must submit Rs 6 crore each as bank guarantee before leaving and come back to Kochi by Jan 10, 2013. The sum is to be handed over to the court.
The news of the Italian marines getting a huge relief has trigerred much concern among Indian netizens. Many of them expressed their outrage on social media. A tweet from defence analyst Brahma Chellaney @Chellaney read: "Justice, Indian style: Kerala high court grants jailed Italian marines Christmas trip to Italy. Had they been Indian, they would have rotted."
In response, Sucheta Dalal @suchetadalal tweeted, "Ferrari will fly two flags in their next rally in India."
Yesterday, Kerala's Director General of Prosecutions T Asif Ali had told the high court that the state is not willing to accept the undertaking given by Italian Ambassador Giacomo Sanfelice that his country will ensure the return of Latorre and Girone to India.
"Italy is hobnobbing and joining hands with the accused right from the inception of the case. Their words cannot be believed at all. If for want of the accused, the trial is torpedoed, it will be a wrong signal," Asif Ali stressed. He warned that the marines would stay in Italy to avoid being tried for the murder of Ajesh Binki and Valentine aka Gelastine.
Both the victims were shot dead by the marines when their small fishing trawler Saint Antony drifted near the Italian vessel MV Enrica Lexie around 4.30 pm on Feb 15.
Girone and Latorre claimed that they had fired warning shots in self defence as they felt armed pirates were about to attack Enrica Lexie. However, Saint Antony's captain Freddie Louis averred that he and the others on board the trawler were shot at "without provocation".
Yesterday, the defence counsel P Vijay Bhanu assured the court that Italy "will not do anything to interfere with the trial" since the country's "credibility is at stake". He pointed out that Italian Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola neither tried to meet Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy nor other high-ranking officials during his visit to Kochi recently.