The Kerala High Court on Wednesday granted bail, on stringent conditions, to the two Italian marines accused of shooting to death two fishermen from onboard an Italian ship off the Kerala coast.

Justice N.K. Balakrishnan directed that the accused be released on bail on executing a bond for Rs.1 crore each with two solvent Indian sureties each for the like sum to the satisfaction of the magistrate court concerned.

The court ordered that the accused be released only on production of valid travel documents or visa, which had been endorsed by the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer or the Foreigners Registration Officer. The other conditions were: they shall appear before the Ernakulam city police commissioner on all days between 10 and 11 a.m. until further orders; and the petitioners shall stay in a building within a distance of 10 km from the office of the police chief. The judge directed the accused to provide the number and other details of the building they intended to stay to the police commissioner. The accused shall not leave the territorial limits of the city police commissioner.

The accused shall not directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to persons acquainted with the case so as to dissuade him/her from disclosing the facts to the court to any police officer and shall not tamper with evidence.

The sureties shall not leave the State without the court permission. The accused should also furnish their mobile numbers, if any, to the police commissioner.

The court directed the police to inform the sea port or other authorities to ensure that the accused did not leave the country.

The marines, Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, moved the High Court following the dismissal of their bail pleas by the Kollam Sessions Court. The Italians said they had been in custody for over 91 days. They had been away from their family and living in a totally alien environment. And their mental and physical health had been affected adversely because of the prolonged detention in a secluded cell. The petitioners pointed out that the investigation was over and the charge sheet had already been filed before the sessions court. Therefore, detaining them further was unnecessary and unwarranted.

The Centre pleaded that the court should insist on Indian sureties rather than foreign embassy officials in case the High Court granted bail to the marines. If an Indian citizen was provided as a surety, the marines would not leave the country and would be available for trial, it said.

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