A UN court has ruled that India must allow Italian marine Salvatore Girone, who’s been detained in Delhi for more than four years, to go home,
Girone is one of two marines arrested in India in 2012 on suspicion of killing two fishermen from Karola while taking part in an anti-piracy mission on an Italian oil tanker.
In an interim ruling that is to be officially announced on Tuesday, the UN’s Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that Sergeant Salvatore Girone be allowed to return home until the dispute is resolved through arbitration.
Salvatore Girone (centre L) and Latorre Massimiliano (3rd R), members of the navy security team of Napoli registered Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie, sit in a police vehicle. (Agencies)
Girone is out on bail but lives in the Italian embassy in New Delhi because of travel restrictions. Government sources initially denied the report on Monday, saying Italy was “misrepresenting” the order. Foreign ministry spokesperson Vikas Swaroop, however, confirmed the court order later.
The “tribunal unanimously prescribed that India and Italy would approach the Supreme Court of India for relaxation of bail conditions of Sergeant Girone. While remaining under the authority of the Supreme Court of India, he may return to Italy for the duration of the present arbitration,” he said. The tribunal also held that Italy must return him in case India gets jurisdiction over the marine, he said.
Girone and fellow marine Massimiliano Latorre are accused of shooting the fishermen off the Kerala coast while protecting an Italian oil tanker.
Latorre was allowed to go back to Italy in 2014 after he suffered a stroke, but Girone was barred from leaving India till a dispute between New Delhi and Rome over which country has jurisdiction in the case is resolved. Italy referred the row to the UN tribunal after repeated delays of the trial in India.
For his return to his homeland, the tribunal suggested conditions such as Girone surrendering his passport so that he doesn’t travel abroad and reporting his presence to an Italian authority designated by the Indian top court.
The order is binding for both countries as there is no appeal process in the UN tribunal.
Technically, the Supreme Court has the power to keep the accused marine in India till the tribunal delivers its verdict in the jurisdiction case.