No death penalty for marines, says Khurshid

NEW DELHI: India has assured Italy that marines will not be liable for death penalty as the case does not fall in the ‘rarest of rare’ category, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid informed the Lok Sabha today.

India has told Italy that the marines will not be arrested if they return within timeframe laid down by Supreme Court, Khurshid added.

The Italian government on Thursday said that it would return to India two marines facing murder charges in the shooting deaths of two fishermen.

India gave the assurances after Italy sought clarification regarding conditions applicable to the marines on their return, the minister said.

However, Khurshid said that the return of the Italian marines would not change the Supreme Court ruling. "The law will not change, they will have to respect the Supreme Court order," he added.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin has confirmed that after intensive diplomatic contacts the Italian government took the decision to send back the marines.

"There have been very intensive diplomatic contacts between Italy and India during the last 24 hours. And in the context of those contacts, Italy has informed at a very senior level to us that they will be sending back the marines to India in accordance with the timeline that has been laid down by the honourable Supreme Court," he said.

Italy's previous decision not to send the marines - Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone - to face trial triggered a diplomatic standoff.

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered Italy's Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini not to leave the country till April 2, when the next hearing into the killing of two Kerala fishermen allegedly by two Italian marines is scheduled.