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Italy to send 2 marines accused of killing fishermen back to India

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 12:33 AM EDT, Fri March 22, 2013
Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre (R) and Salvatore Girone (L) arrive at Ciampino airport near Rome on December 22.
Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre (R) and Salvatore Girone (L) arrive at Ciampino airport near Rome on December 22.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rome says it received assurances that the marines' rights will be protected
  • The 2 sailors face trial in India in connection with the killing of 2 Indian fishermen
  • India's Supreme Court allowed the Italians to leave India on condition they would return
  • When they failed to come back, India placed a travel ban on the Italian ambassador

(CNN) -- Italy has moved to defuse a diplomatic dispute with India by agreeing to send back two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen last year.

The two Italian marines are due to face trial in India over the allegations, but after the Indian Supreme Court allowed them to return to Italy last month to vote in national elections, Rome refused to send them back.

That decision angered Indian government officials and Supreme Court justices, who noted that the Italian ambassador had given assurances to the court that the marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, would come back to India after the elections.

The court responded last week by temporarily banning the ambassador, Daniele Mancini, from leaving India, a move that Italy said violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

The two sides appeared locked in an impasse, with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying Italy's actions were "not acceptable" and warning of "consequences" for the two countries' relations.

On Thursday, the Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's office said it would make good on the commitment to send the sailors back after receiving written assurances from the Indian government that the two men's "fundamental rights" would be protected.

The two sailors have agreed to the decision, it said.

The Indian government appeared to welcome the move, with Home Affairs Minister R.P.N. Singh saying on Twitter that New Delhi's "tough stand" had worked.

Italy has argued that the February 2012 shooting involving its marines happened in international waters and was therefore outside of Indian jurisdiction. Latorre and Girone say they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

CNN's Elwyn Lopez contributed to this report.

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