New Delhi: 1:50 pm: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the relations between India and Italy were back on track. "We remain satisfied with most things. It's important that friendly relations are not hurt by incidents of this nature. If they happen, they have to be handled in the best objective manner. Things with Italy are back on track and normal," Khurshid said.
1:20 pm: Reacting to Italy's decision of sending back its marines, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said, "Marines are coming back as per the Supreme Court's direction. We welcome the move, which is consistent with dignity of the judicial process of India."
12:33 pm: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in his statement in Parliament said the Italian marines will not get death sentence as the Indian fishermen killings case was not a rarest of rare case. He also said they won't be arrested if they return before the apex court's deadline. "The two Italian marines are on their way to India. Notwithstanding pending proceedings, the government has informed the Italian government that the marines will not be liable for arrest if they return within time frame laid down by the Supreme Court," Khurshid said in his statement.
12:20 pm: External Affairs Minister has tabled his statement on the Italian marines in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha amidst uproar.
11:46 am: The trial of the marines cannot be expected any time soon. There are complex legal issues to be sorted out first between Italy and India. The Italians are bound to question the legality of the marines' detention in India as Italy says the shooting of the Indian fishermen did not take place in India waters.
11:30 am: As BJP took credit for Italy's decision to send back marines, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said, "If the government's diplomacy succeeds and BJP takes credit, I have no problem. But, ultimately it's the government's diplomacy which has succeeded."
11:03 am: The Italian marines are escorted by Italy's Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura on a military special aircraft. Sources say there is a possibility that the marines could serve their prison term in Italy. There is an agreement between the two countries on the transfer of prisoners.
10:31 am: Reacting to Italy's decision to send back the marines, the Bharatiya Janata Party said it was a result of combined efforts of the Opposition, the government and the Supreme Court. "Must say the combined effort of the Opposition to persuade the government to carry on its diplomacy seems to have worked. The tough stand taken by the Supreme Court also had its impact," BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.
The government is calling it a diplomatic victory. Minister of State for Home Affairs RPN Singh said, "The government and the Supreme Court together made Italy reach this decision. This is a diplomatic victory."
10:15 am: Sources say that the Italian marines will be taken straight to the Italian embassy and will face trial in a special court set up by the Supreme Court.
10:00 am: Attorney General GE Vahanvati has said that the Italian marines charged with killing two Indian fishermen will not be arrested immediately on their return to India on Friday. Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said that the marines will face trial as usual in India and that the law won't change.
This comes even as the Italian foreign office said that they have been assured there will be no death penalty for the marines. Italy's Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan De Mistura told the country's media, "The Indian government has ensured that there will be no death penalty against them."
It is a victory for India in the stand-off with Italy over the fate of the two Italian marines, Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, accused of killing two Kerala fishermen. The Italian government has said that the marines will be sent back to India on Friday.
Italian authorities say that the decision was taken after they requested and received a written assurance from the Indian government regarding the treatment and protection of the marines' fundamental rights. An official statement from Rome said, "The Italian government requested and received a written assurances from the Indian authorities regarding the treatment of the marines and the protection of their fundamental rights."
The Ministry of External Affairs in its first official reaction has confirmed that Italy has informed India at a very senior level that the marines will be back on Friday. The government will make a statement in Parliament after noon.
Minister of State for Home Affairs RPN Singh welcomed Italy's decision. Singh tweeted, "India's tough stand as articulated by the PM and Sonia Gandhi has worked. Italy sending back its 2 marines to face trial in India."
Italy's decision to not send the marines back had sparked a diplomatic row earlier this month. India had warned Italy of dire consequences if the marines were not returned and the tough stance seems to have forced the Italian government to reverse its position.
The Supreme Court had also taken a tough stance barring Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving India. Coming down heavily on Mancini while hearing the case of the Italian marines, the Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir had not only restrained him from leaving the country till further orders, he also added that a person who comes to the court and gives an undertaking has no immunity.
The Supreme Court also said that that it had lost all trust in the Italian ambassador while adjourning the matter till April 2. The court had ruled that no further affidavits will be accepted from the Italian ambassador on whether he wants to leave the country.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh last week termed as "unacceptable" Italy's refusal to send its two marines back to India and said the issue will be taken up with that country. Congress President Sonia Gandhi had also spoken out strongly saying that no country should take India for granted.