One of two Italian marines accused of murdering Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala almost four years ago will not be returning to India to face trial after being allowed home temporarily for medical treatment, a senator said on Tuesday.
India had granted Massimiliano Latorre, who suffered a stroke while in New Delhi in 2014, a period of leave in Italy for medical treatment, but he was supposed to return by Friday.
It was not clear when or if Latorre would return to India.
The second sailor on trial, Salvatore Girone, is being held in the Italian embassy in New Delhi.
"Massimiliano Latorre will not return to India, and furthermore, the possibility of asking for Salvatore Girone's return is being explored," said Nicola Latorre, president of the Senate Defence Committee, according to Italian media.
Latorre did not provide details and did not immediately respond to calls. When contacted, the prime minister's office and the foreign ministry did not confirm or deny Latorre's comments.
The two men say they accidentally killed two fishermen when they mistook a fishing boat for a pirate ship and fired warning shots while protecting an Italian oil tanker in 2012.
In August 2014, by 15 votes to six, the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) chaired by its president Vladimir Golitsyn, had ruled in the Enrica Lexie case that, “Italy and India shall both suspend all court proceedings and shall refrain from initiating new ones which might aggravate or extend the dispute submitted to the Annex VII arbitral tribunal”. It had further instructed both countries to report to the tribunal by 24 September on their compliance with the ruling.
Italy and India have been at loggerheads over who has jurisdiction over the case, and Italy has sought international arbitration. The latest statement by the Italian senator is just going to make matters worse for both the nations. India had sought to prove that the killing of two Indian fishermen — Valentine Jelastine and Ajeesh Pink — off the coast of Kerala on 15 February, 2012 by the two Italian marines — Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone — was infact a “double murder at sea, in which one fisherman was shot in the head and the other in the stomach”.
Meanwhile, Italy has always maintained that they were killed as part of anti-piracy operations and that the case was covered by Article 97 (pertaining to “collision or any other incident of navigation concerning a ship on the high seas”) of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The fallout from India's arrest of the marines has damaged wider relations between Italy and India, contributing to the collapse of a European Union-India summit last year.
In 2013, Italy reversed an initial decision not to send the marines back to India to stand trial after a home visit, in a bid to tone down the diplomatic row.
With inputs from agencies