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Indian court bails Italian marines charged with Kerala fishermen murder

A court in Kerala state has granted bail to two Italian marines charged with the murder of two Indian fishermen shot dead off India's south-west coast in February.

20120217 kerala italian trawler 0Enlarge
The crew aboard the MV Enrica Lexie (pictured) reportedly mistook the Indian trawler for a pirate vessel, and fired on the fishermen believing they were about to be attacked. (STRDEL/AFP/Getty Images)

A court in India has granted bail to two Italian marines charged with the murder of two Indian fishermen who were shot dead off the coast of Kerala in February.

According to the BBC, the Kerala High Court ordered Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone to deposit their passports and barred them from leaving Kochi city.

Bail for both marines, who have been in jail for three months, was set at 10 million rupees ($180,000) each, while the court also ordered the men to present two Indians each as guarantors to ensure their presence during their trial, according to the Associated Press.

More from GlobalPost: India charges Italian marines with murder of Kerala fishermen

Latorre and Girone had been employed to provide security on an oil tanker, the Enrica Lexie, which was travelling to Egypt from Singapore with a 34-strong crew.

Italy says the marines mistook a nearby fishing trawler for a pirate vessel and fired warning shots in self-defence, killing Selestian Valentine and Ajesh Pinky. India says the two fishermen were unarmed. Both marines could be executed or be handed a life imprisonment sentence if found guilty.

Italy agreed in April to pay 10m rupees in compensation to each of the fishermen’s families of the two Indian fishermen, but talks between the Italian and Indian governments failed to calm a diplomatic row continuing between the two countries.

Earlier this month Italy’s foreign ministry recalled its ambassador to India for "consultations on the matter of the marines,” the Agence France Presse reported, while India's ambassador in Italy was summoned to the foreign ministry over "the unacceptable judicial developments related to the Italian sailors," the ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters.

Rome insists that the case should be handled in Italy and that the marines have immunity as the tanker was in international waters and flying an Italian flag when the shooting occurred.

New Delhi initially argued that the marines should be tried in India because the killings occurred on an Indian boat, but recently reversed its position and concurred that the incident had taken place in international waters. However, Kerala state officials maintain that the marines will be tried under Indian law, the BBC reports.

More from GlobalPost: India and Italy seek to 'clear air' over fishermen's deaths

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/120530/indian-court-bails-italian-marines-charged-kerala-fishermen