India's top court drops order restraining Italian envoy

AFP , Tuesday 2 Apr 2013

Indian court cancels order preventing Italian ambassador from leaving country which it passed in response to Rome failing to return two Italian marines facing murder charges in New Delhi

India's Supreme Court Tuesday cancelled its order preventing the Italian ambassador from leaving the country, which it passed last month in a diplomatic row with Rome.

The court imposed the restriction on ambassador Daniele Mancini after Rome failed to return two Italian marines facing murder charges in New Delhi.

Mancini had signed an affidavit taking responsibility for their return after they had been allowed to travel back to Italy on bail.

The order caused concern that India could be in breach of international law which grants foreign envoys freedom of movement, but the impasse was resolved when Italy sent the marines back to face trial on 22 March.

"We vacate our earlier order dated 18 March," a three-judge bench in the Supreme Court announced on Tuesday.

It also asked the Indian attorney-general to report back to the court by 16 April on the setting up of a special court in New Delhi to try the marines, who face murder charges over the killing of two fishermen in February last year.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were guarding an Italian oil tanker when they opened fire on a fishing boat, which they say they mistook for a pirate vessel.

Italy has insisted the pair should be prosecuted in their home country because the shootings involved an Italian-flagged vessel in international waters. India says the killings took place in waters under its jurisdiction.

On Monday, India's National Investigation Agency was tasked with re-investigating the case, which was originally handled by the local police in the southwestern state of Kerala.

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