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Indian court lifts travel ban on Italian ambassador after marines' return

By Harmeet Shah Singh and Jethro Mullen, CNN
April 2, 2013 -- Updated 1549 GMT (2349 HKT)
Indian fishermen burn an effigy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Trivandrum, Kerala, on March 13, 2013.
Indian fishermen burn an effigy of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Trivandrum, Kerala, on March 13, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The two Italian marines arrived back in India last month
  • They are accused of killing two Indian fishermen last year
  • Rome had initially refused to send the marines back from voting in elections
  • The Indian Supreme Court said the Italian ambassador had assured they would return

New Delhi (CNN) -- The Indian Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted its foreign travel ban on the Italian ambassador following Rome's recent decision to send two marines back to New Delhi where they face trial over the killing of two fishermen last year, a lawyer said.

The court barred Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving India last month because of Rome's refusal at the time to return the two marines, who had been allowed to go home temporarily to vote in national elections.

Diljeet Titus, a lawyer representing the Italian side, said the Supreme Court had lifted its travel restrictions on Mancini after the two sailors -- Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone -- subsequently arrived back in India.

Rome's initial decision not to return the marines angered Indian government officials and Supreme Court justices, who noted that the Italian ambassador had given assurances to the court that they would come back to India after the elections.

The two sides appeared locked in an impasse, with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying Italy's actions were "not acceptable" and warning of "consequences" for the two countries' relations.

But Rome backed down, announcing on March 21 that it would send Latorre and Girone back after receiving written assurances from the Indian government that the two men's "fundamental rights" would be protected.

The two sailors agreed to the decision, it said. But the move created some dissent in the ranks of Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti's government: Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi resigned March 26 over the matter.

Italy has argued that the February 2012 shooting involving its marines happened in international waters and was therefore outside of Indian jurisdiction. Latorre and Girone say they mistook the Indian fishermen for pirates.

On Tuesday, the Indian Supreme court scheduled a hearing for April 16 to seek the Indian government┬╣s response on plans to set up a special court for trying the two Italian men, Titus said.

CNN's Harmeet Shah Singh reported from New Delhi, and Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong.

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