India’s top court ruled on Wednesday (September 28) that a second Italian marine accused of killing two fishermen can stay in his home country pending a ruling on whether he should be tried in New Delhi.
Two marines are accused of shooting the fishermen while protecting an Italian oil tanker off India’s southern state of Kerala in 2012, in a long-running case that has soured relations between the countries.
Massimiliano Latorre was allowed to travel back to Italy in 2014 for treatment after suffering a stroke, with India stipulating that he return.
But the supreme court said the marine can now stay in his home country pending the settlement of a dispute between Delhi and Rome over who has jurisdiction in the case.
“Massimiliano Latorre is permitted to remain in Italy pending the outcome of proceedings in the international court,” justice Anil Dave said.
The court allowed fellow marine Salvatore Girone to return home in May, also pending a ruling on jurisdiction, after living in Italy’s embassy in Delhi for four years.
The court agreed on Wednesday to alter Latorre’s bail, on condition he report to an Italian police station every month and that Delhi regularly updates the court on the arbitration case.
Italy initiated international proceedings last year, referring the row to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague and asking it to rule on where the men should be tried.
The detention of the marines, the murder charges and the long wait for the case to be resolved are sore subjects in Italy, with prime minister Matteo Renzi regularly criticised by opposition leaders in the past for failing to get both men home.
Italy insists the oil tanker, the MV Enrica Lexie, was in international waters as part of an anti-piracy mission at the time of the incident.
India argues the case is not a maritime dispute but “a double murder at sea”, in which one fisherman was shot in the head and the other in the stomach.
In December 2014 Rome threatened to withdraw its ambassador from India after a court rejected Latorre’s original request for medical leave.