Judge slaps stringent conditions on petitioners and asks them to execute a guarantee for Rs. 6 crore

The Kerala High Court on Thursday permitted Italian marines Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast, to visit home for Christmas, if the Union government accepts Rome’s undertaking that it would ensure their return to India.

The court disposed of the petitions filed by the marines, who are out on bail, seeking permission to visit their families. They also wanted the court to relax the bail conditions that they not leave the Kochi City Police Commissioner's jurisdiction.

Justice P. Bhavadasan said that if the Union government felt that the undertaking given by the Italian Ambassador and Consul-General could be accepted, the bail conditions shall stand modified. The marines could remain in Italy for two weeks from the date of departure (during the Christmas festival). But they should return to India by 3 p.m. on January 10. Their passports shall be released on production of necessary travel documents and on an unconditional undertaking that they would return to India and surrender their passports at 3 p.m. on January 10.

They should also execute a bank guarantee for Rs. 6 crore in court and the Ambassador and the Consul-General should file affidavits to the effect that they would maintain surveillance of the marines during their travel to and stay in Italy and promise that they would be produced in court at or before the time specified by the High Court.

The authorities concerned who were to maintain surveillance shall furnish the Kochi Police Commissioner with their address and mobile phone numbers and their movements in Italy, the judge said.

If the Union government felt that the undertakings by the Italian diplomats were acceptable, it could decide whether permission could be granted and necessary documents provided for their travel.

Dismissing the State government’s contention that the undertaking from the Italian diplomats could not be accepted, the court said the instance of the failure of a French citizen involved in the French espionage case to return to India after going home could not be “stretched to thwart every subsequent such issues, and each case will have to be determined upon its own facts.”

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