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Marines are innocent, must return from India - minister

Mauro says pair have right to go home after two years

22 January, 16:13
Marines are innocent, must return from India - minister (ANSA) - Rome, January 22 - Defence Minister Mario Mauro said Wednesday that two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fisherman are innocent and should be allowed to return to Italy.

Marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are accused of killing fishermen Valentine (aka Gelastine) and Ajesh Binki after allegedly mistaking them for pirates and opening fire on their fishing trawler while guarding the privately owned Italian-flagged oil-tanker MT Enrica Lexie off the coast of Kerala on February 15, 2012. "Our marines our innocent. It's up to those who have put together this trial to prove the opposite," Mauro said.

"After two years, we still don't know the charges and I think that, after two years, they have the right to return home.

"The Indian authorities have to guarantee this right because, otherwise, it would amount to a violation of human rights". The case has caused diplomatic tension between Rome and New Delhi.

Italy has appealed to the Indian Supreme Court amid fears that India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) intends to prosecute the pair under the anti-terrorism law, despite previous reassurances from the Indian foreign ministry that the marines would not face capital punishment.