Kochi, Jan 4: The Italian marines, who had gone to their homeland to celebrate Christmas with near and dear ones, today returned to Kerala where they are likely to face trial for shooting dead two Indian fishermen off India's southwestern coast on Feb 15, 2012.
Last month, the Kerala High Court permitted Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre to attend the special mass and prayers which their families had arranged in Italy. However, the court made it clear that the duo must report here before 3 pm on Jan 10.
Accordingly, a chartered flight carrying Girone and Latorre touched down at the Cochin International Airport at 7.50 am. The marines reached the City Police Commissioner's office around 9.30 am and subsequently went to Kollam as both were supposed to surrender their passports on arriving here.
According to the Italian Consul General Giampaolo Cutillo, the marines have complied with the court's order by coming back to India six days before the deadline. Rome apparently feels that Girone and Latorre's early return will lead to a "positive solution".
Ever since the marines killed Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Binki, the accused have been claiming that they fired at the fishermen in international waters and therefore, the matter is beyond the jurisdiction of courts in Kerala.
Rejecting Rome's demand that only a court in Italy should try the marines, Delhi stressed that Indian law should be applied in the case since the marines shot dead two unarmed fishermen in a "contiguous zone".
The two victims put out to sea on a fishing trawler 'Saint Antony' from Neendakara in Kollam. When the trawler neared the cargo ship Enrica Lexie, Girone and Latorre opened fire at the trawler thinking that pirates were attacking the ship. As Jalastine and Binki succumbed to bullet injuries, the Kerala police charged Latorre and Girone with murder under Section 302 of the IPC.
The Supreme Court will decide soon whether Girone and Latorre should stand trial in India or just appear before an Italian court.