The two Italian marines -- accused of shooting two Indian fishermen -- who were allowed to go home to Italy for Christmas, returned to Kochi on Friday.
Much to the relief of the Union and the state government, Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Gironi returned a week before the deadline set by the Kerala high court.
Italy feels that the men’s early return would lead to a solution to the contentious issue that is threatening to vitiate ties between the two countries.
On February 15, 2011, Massimiliano and Gironi had allegedly shot two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast. While staying in Kochi on conditional bail, they were given permission to go home for Christmas by the Kerala high court. They had been asked to return by 3 pm on January 10.
The relatives of the victims and the opposition CPM had slammed the court’s decision, apprehending that the men would not return to India.
But arriving in a special aircraft on Friday morning, Massimiliano and Gironi later appeared before the Kollam district magistrate. “We have kept our words. We have faith in the judiciary of India,” said Italian consul general Giampaolo Cutillo, who accompanied the marines.