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Indian court grants bail to two Italian sailors at center of diplomatic row by D Jose May 30,2012   |  Source: Reuters

An Indian court granted bail on Wednesday to two Italian sailors charged with the murder of two Indian fishermen in a case that has caused a major diplomatic rift between Rome and New Delhi.

The two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, were ordered not to leave the port city of Kochi, in the western state of Kerala, while awaiting trial. They will be freed once they each pay bail of 10 million rupees, about $200,000. No date has been set for trial but it is expected to start soon.

The sailors were part of a military security team protecting the cargo ship Enrica Lexie from pirate attacks when they opened fire on the fishermen's boat off the coast of Kerala on Feb. 15. Italian officials say the men mistook the fishermen for pirates.

The picture of what happened that day is still murky, but investigators say what is clear is that the two fishermen were unarmed and posed no threat to the ship. Italian officials said the fishermen ignored warning shots.

The incident has soured relations between Italy and India, with Rome insisting that Latorre and Girone are military personnel and should be tried at home and not in an Indian court. The Indian government says it is a matter for the courts to decide and it will not intervene in the judicial

 

© Thomson Reuters

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