Rome/New Delhi: A UN arbitration tribunal has ruled in favour of an Italian marine, held in India on murder charges, by allowing him to return home pending the arbitration proceedings at the Hague.

File image of the Italian Marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone. AP

File image of the Italian Marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone. AP

Two Italian marines – Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are facing charges of murdering two fishermen in 2012 off the Kerala coast. Latorre is back in Italy after a stroke in 2014 while Girone is staying in Italian embassy here. The two countries have agreed to arbitration by the UN Court.

Reports from Rome said the UN tribunal court has ruled that pending arbitration proceedings, Girone may be permitted to return home. However, the tribunal’s order is expected to be made public on Tuesday.

Sources in New Delhi denied reports that marine has been ordered to be freed, saying Italy was “misrepresenting” the order which actually affirms the Indian Supreme Court’s authority over the matter.

Information reaching the Indian government said “India and Italy asked to approach Supreme Court for relaxation of bail conditions for Girone. Possible return to Italy strictly conditional on Italy guaranteeing to return him if required.”

“Foreign Ministry informs that the arbitral tribunal set up in The Hague has anticipated today its decision that Girone Rifleman (be allowed to go) back in Italy until the end of the arbitration proceedings, initiated by the Government on 26 June, 2015. The return of the conditions will be agreed between Italy and India,” the Italian ministry said.

Italy in March had asked the PCA judges to order India to release its detained marine Girone, saying otherwise he risks four more years in India without any charges being made which would amount to “grave violation of his human rights”.

The PCA is hearing oral arguments by the two sides.

The arbitration “could last at least three or four years” which means that Girone risks “being held in (New) Delhi, without any charges being made, for a total of seven-eight years”, Italy’s representative had told the court.

Girone is one of two Italian marines – on board ship ‘Enrica Lexie’ – accused by India of killing two of its fishermen. He has not been able to leave India, aside from a few brief permits, since the incident.

Meanwhile, Italian new agency ANSA quoted Italian Premier Matteo Renzi as saying that he was sending a message of “friendship and cooperation to the great people of India and to the Indian prime minister (Narendra Modi)” after the news that marine Salvatore Girone is to return to Italy. “We are always ready to cooperate,” Renzi added in Florence, as per ANSA.

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Italian marine Salvatore Girone to return home for pending proceedings: UN tribunal rules