Two Italian marines charged with murder in India are on their way back to New Delhi after the government in Rome agreed they should return to face trial, the foreign ministry said on Friday.
"They are on their way back to Delhi," Syed Akbaruddin, foreign ministry spokesman said, following Italy's turnaround late Thursday after its earlier decision unleashed a diplomatic furore.
Foreign minister Salman Khurshid Friday hailed Italy's decision to return two marines facing murder charges in New Delhi as a success for diplomacy.
"Diplomacy continues to work when everyone else thinks that everything is lost," Khurshid told reporters in his first reaction to the dramatic change in position by Rome.
In a move that would soothe frayed diplomatic nerves between India and Italy, Rome said late Thursday night that it would send the two marines back to India to face trial for the murder of two Indian fishermen.
The announcement reversed an earlier decision saying the pair wouldn’t return on March 22 as agreed when they were granted permission to return home to vote in the Italian elections.
It also came after the Indian government and especially the Supreme Court came down hard on Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini for reneging on his committment to the court to ensure the marines’ return.
The Italian government on Thursday said it had received “ample assurances” from India “on the treatment the marines would receive and the defence of their fundamental rights”.
“The government decided, also in the interest of the marines, to maintain the commitment taken when they were granted leave to return to India by March 22,” it said.
“The marines agreed to this decision.”
The Supreme Court had asked Mancini not to leave the country without its permission after Italy’s refusal to send the marines back.
The envoy had given an undertaking, amounting to a sovereign guarantee, that they would come back in four weeks time, which ends on Friday (March 22).
Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone killed the two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February, claiming they mistook them for pirates.
(With AFP inputs)