Italian marines row: India drops anti-piracy charge

File pic of Massimiliano Latorre (L) and Salvatore Girone (Dec 2012) Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Massimiliano Latorre (L) and Salvatore Girone were first held on suspicion of murder in February 2012

India has said it will not use an anti-piracy law to try two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012.

The government told the Supreme Court that the law, which carries the death penalty, would not apply in the case. The marines will still be tried - but under less stringent criminal laws.

India's decision to use the anti-piracy law led to a diplomatic row with Italy.

Last week, Rome recalled its ambassador to India over the issue.

The Italian foreign ministry said Daniele Mancini would return home because of "yet another unacceptable, deliberate delay" after a hearing in the Supreme Court was postponed.

The Italian government also asked the UN and European Union to intervene in the continuing dispute with India.

The marines - Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone - were guarding an Italian oil tanker when they opened fire, killing two men off the Kerala coast. The marines said they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

They are on bail pending trial, and are living and working at the Italian embassy in Delhi.

On Monday, Indian attorney general Ghoolam Vahanvati told the Supreme Court that the prosecution did not intend to proceed against Mr Latorre and Mr Girone under the anti-piracy section of the Suppression of Unlawful Acts (SUA).

"We want to delete the anti-piracy clause," he said. Mr Vahanvati did not give any reason.

Although India had previously ruled out the possibility of a death penalty, its decision to invoke the anti-piracy law had angered Italy.

The diplomatic spat has dragged on since Mr Latorre and Mr Girone were first detained on suspicion of murder in February 2012.

Although they were allowed to go home to vote in elections a year ago, Rome initially refused to send them back, arguing the case should take place in Italy as the incident took place in international waters.

The men eventually returned to Delhi in March 2013.

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