Italian marine's leave extended again by India court

Massimiliano Latorre Image copyright AFP
Image caption Massimiliano Latorre had heart surgery in Italy on 5 January

India's Supreme Court has allowed an Italian marine accused of killing two fishermen in 2012 to further extend his stay in Italy on health grounds.

Massimiliano Latorre's stay was extended by six months as he developed complications following heart surgery in January.

Latorre, along with marine Salvatore Girone, is facing murder charges and the two are on bail pending trial.

The case has led to a bitter diplomatic row between Delhi and Rome.

Earlier this year, a European Union-India summit planned during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to France and Germany was cancelled over the issue.

The marines were guarding an Italian oil tanker when they opened fire, killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast. The marines said they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Massimiliano Latorre (L) and Salvatore Girone were first held on suspicion of murder in February 2012

India has ruled out the possibility of the death penalty and invoked an anti-piracy law to try the marines.

Italy has always insisted that as the shooting took place in international waters, the men should be tried in Italy.

Marine Girone is staying in the Italian embassy in Delhi awaiting trial.

On Monday, the Supreme Court bench hearing the case asked the Indian government to respond by 26 August to the Italian request for the marines to be tried under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and by arbitration.

Italy says it wants international arbitration after three years of unsuccessful negotiations with India and the "impossibility of arriving at a solution", news agency AFP reported.

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