India

India court allows Italian marine further leave

Massimiliano Latorre Image copyright AFP
Image caption Massimiliano Latorre had heart surgery in Italy in January last year

India's Supreme Court has allowed an Italian marine accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012 to stay in his country until 30 April for medical treatment.

Massimiliano Latorre was meant to return to India by Friday, reports say.

Last year an Indian court granted him a period of leave in Italy after he had heart surgery.

Latorre and fellow marine Salvatore Girone are facing murder charges - the two are on bail pending trial.

The court's order came after an Italian senator said on Tuesday that the marine would not return to India.

"Massimiliano Latorre will not return to India, and furthermore, the possibility of asking for Salvatore Girone's return is being explored," said Nicola Latorre, president of the Senate Defence Committee, according to Italian media.

The Italian prime minister's office and the foreign ministry did not confirm or deny the senator's comments when contacted by Reuters.

Correspondents say the court's order is likely to temporarily defuse any diplomatic tensions over the senator's remarks.

The marines 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.

India has ruled out the possibility of a death penalty and of invoking the anti-piracy law to try the marines.

Italy has always insisted that as the shooting took place in international waters, the men should be tried in Italy.

In 2014, Delhi and Rome were involved in a bitter diplomatic row after Italy refused to send the marines back when they were allowed to go home to vote in the February 2013 elections.

The marines eventually returned to Delhi a month later.

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