India fishermen killings: Anti-terror agency to probe Italian marines

File pic of Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre (R) and Salvatore Girone (L) arriving in Itlay on 22 Dec 2012
Image caption Massimiliano Latorre (R) and Salvatore Girone had returned to Italy before Christmas

India's Supreme Court has allowed an anti-terror agency to probe the case of two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in a case that sparked a diplomatic row.

Italy argued the case should be investigated by the police and not the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

Earlier this month, the NIA charged the two men with murder and violating maritime safety laws.

They will be tried by a special court in the Indian capital, Delhi.

The government had earlier justified appointing the NIA as the agency to probe the case, arguing that the top federal agency, Central Bureau of Investigation, was "over-burdened" with cases.

The case involving the marines had sparked a bitter diplomatic row between India and Italy after Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who were allowed by the court to travel home to vote in the February election, did not return on Rome's advice.

They had been ordered to return in four weeks to stand trial in India after Ambassador Daniele Mancini had given his personal assurance.

The Supreme Court barred Ambassador Mancini from leaving India after Rome said the marines would not return.

The marines, however, returned to India on 22 March. The Italian government said it had received assurances about the men's treatment and their human rights.

The marines are accused of shooting the fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012. They had been guarding an Italian oil tanker and said they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

Italy has always insisted that the shooting had taken place in international waters, and that the men should be tried in Italy.

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