The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed one of two Italian marines facing murder charges over the deaths of two Kerala fishermen to stay in his home country until April 30 following heart surgery.
The decision defuses a possible judicial standoff after an Italian senator said the day before that Massimiliano Latorre would not return to face trial as he had been due to by this Friday, having earlier been allowed home for medical treatment.
“We allow him to stay in Italy until April 30 on health grounds,” a three-judge bench of India’s highest court, headed by Justice Anil R Dave, said in its order.
The Supreme Court set a hearing on April 13 to take up the case of the marines, who stand accused of killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast almost four years ago in an anti-piracy operation that went tragically wrong.
The second sailor on trial, Salvatore Girone, remains at the Italian embassy in New Delhi.
Italy and India have been at loggerheads over who has jurisdiction over the case, and Italy has sought international arbitration.
The fallout from India’s arrest of the Italian marines has damaged wider relations between the two countries, contributing to the collapse of a European Union-India summit last year.
In another case this week, a court in Tamil Nadu sentenced 35 crew members of a private American ship - 25 of them foreigners - to five years in jail for illegal possession of arms in Indian waters.