Rome, March 21: Italy on Thursday night said it will send back to India two marines to face trial for killing two fishermen after receiving an assurance from the Indian government about the protection of their fundamental rights.
"The two sailor will start tonight for India," the Italian government said in a statement, reversing an earlier decision not to send them to India as agreed when they were granted permission to return home to vote in elections.
"The Italian government requested and received written assurances from the Indian authorities regarding the treatment of the marines and the protection of their fundamental rights," the government said in a statement.
Italy's previous decision not to send marines - Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone - to face trial triggered a diplomatic standoff, with the Indian Supreme Court barring the Italian ambassador from leaving the country. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week termed as "unacceptable" Italy's refusal to send its two marines back to India and said the issue will be taken up with that country.
Earlier on Thursday, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, along with Defense Minister Giampaolo Di Paola and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Steffan de Mistura jointly assessed the Italian position on the issue.
"In light of the assurances received, the Government has considered the opportunity, in the interests of Fusiliers Marina, to maintain the commitment made at the permission to participate in the vote back in India by March 22," the statement said. "The marines agreed to this decision," it added.
India had withhold posting of its Ambassador-designate Basant Kumar Gupta to Rome and the Indian government had said further steps will be taken after completion of the review of bilateral ties with Italy. The Italian government, which had given an undertaking before the court that the marines will be sent back, had on March 11 sent a note verbale to the Indian government informing it that the two will not be sent back.
On January 18, the apex court had turned down the Italian government's plea that the Indian courts had no jurisdiction in the case and had held that the two marines should be tried a special court constituted by the Centre. It had directed that the two be shifted to Delhi and would remain under it's 'custody' till the special court is set up.