Indian court allows detained Italian marine to go home for medical treatment

Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre (right) and Salvatore Girone (left) speak to the press at Ciampino Airport near Rome. India's top court ruled on Friday that a sick Italian marine detained for the 2012 killing of two fishermen can go home fo
Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre (right) and Salvatore Girone (left) speak to the press at Ciampino Airport near Rome. India's top court ruled on Friday that a sick Italian marine detained for the 2012 killing of two fishermen can go home for medical treatment. -- PHOTO: AFP

NEW DELHI (AFP) - India's top court ruled on Friday that a sick Italian marine detained for the 2012 killing of two fishermen can go home for medical treatment.

The Supreme Court said it had agreed to allow Massimiliano Latorre to head home after the Italian ambassador undertook to ensure that he returned to India to stand trial.

Latorre, 47, wants to return to Italy to recuperate after he was hospitalised in New Delhi with ischaemia - a restricted blood supply that can lead to a stroke.

He and fellow marine Salvatore Girone are accused of shooting the fishermen while serving as part of an anti-piracy mission on an Italian-flagged oil tanker, the Enrica Lexie, off the southern Indian state of Kerala in February 2012.

The Italian sailors say they mistook the fishing boat for a pirate vessel and fired what were intended to be warning shots.

They have been living at Italy's embassy pending a possible trial and were not allowed to leave India.

Criminal proceedings against the pair were suspended in March when judges agreed to consider a challenge to prosecutors' jurisdiction in the case and a request for the marines to be allowed home pending its outcome.

The marines were granted a home visit to vote in national elections last year but India was furious when the Italian government initially said it would not send the men back.

A subsequent u-turn that followed intense Indian diplomatic pressure triggered the resignation of Italy's then foreign minister.