Special aircraft leaves with Italian Marines

Kochi: The two Italian Marines currently on bail here after being charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen, and who were allowed to fly back to their country to celebrate Christmas, left here in the early hours of Saturday.

Even though the Marines had reached the Kochi international airport Friday evening, a fresh letter had to come from their embassy in New Delhi and hence their travel was delayed.

They were supposed to fly back Friday evening but the letter came only past midnight.

The Marines reached the airport for the second time at 2.30 a.m Saturday and flew out in a special aircraft shortly after that.

Lattore Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, the two Marines, have been staying in a hotel in Kochi after being granted bail. They have been charged with shooting dead two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki and Gelastine, Feb 15, allegedly taking them for pirates.

In a day of fast developments, Friday saw the arrival of a special aircraft with top Italian officials who dashed off to a court in Kollam along with the two Marines to fulfil all requirements so as to get back their passports.

The Kerala High Court ruled Thursday that the two Marines charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in February, can be allowed to go home for Christmas.

The rare exemption came thanks to the central government.

The court had caveats too: the Marines could be allowed to go, provided they return latest by 3 p.m., Jan 10, 2013, and the Indian government allows them to go. A bank guarantee of Rs.6 crore should also be furnished.

The court ruled that the Indian government should agree to allow them to return to Italy for Christmas, and ensure that the Italian government assured that the two would return to stand trial in India.

Italian officials Friday accompanied the two Marines to the Kollam Magistrate Court to deposit the Rs.6 crore in bank guarantee. An affidavit from the Italian government said it would ensure that the two Marines returned to Kochi by Jan 10, 2013, and also get the clearance of the Indian government.

The Kollam court asked the two Marines to report on Jan 15 for the next posting of the case and released their passports. (IANS)