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Mar 22, 2013 at 10:55pm IST

Sent marines back on India's assurance they won't be hanged: Italy

New Delhi: The Italian Deputy Foreign Minister, Staffan de Mistura, who was in India on Friday, said that a written assurance by the government of India, that the two Italian marines facing trial in the fishermen killings case won't be hanged made Rome rethink its decision of not allowing the duo to return. The marines, who had been allowed to go back to Italy by the Supreme Court to take part in the elections there, returned to India on Friday, the last day of their leave period.

Addressing a press conference, de Mistura said, "A potential diplomatic crisis has definitely been avoided. The news of death penalty became a crucial issue in Italy. Death penalty is unacceptable to us, even for foreigners convicted of crime in Italy. The government of India wrote to Rome assuring that the marines will not be sentenced to death. The guarantee was enough for the Italian government."

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De Mistura, however, added that the official position of Rome on the matter still remained the same - that it reserves the right to try the marines. "Our official position remains the same that when officials, while discharging duties in international waters, commit a crime, they will be adjudicated in their own countries. An Italian judge met the marines twice when they were in Rome. We too want to start a case against the marines." He, however, added that Italy respected India's position too.

He further reiterated demands for a special court to try the marines. "We wish that the special court be established quick and fast, as had been requested by the Indian Supreme Court. We want justice and clarity on the matter," he said.