ROME, March 21 (Xinhua) -- The two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen off the Indian southern coast last year will return to India on Thursday evening, a statement from the Italian government said.
The Italian government has decided to maintain the commitment that the two marines should return to India by March 22 after obtaining a "written assurance" by the Indian authorities about "the protection of their fundamental rights," the statement said.
A diplomatic row deepened last week between Italy and India after Rome decided not to send back Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, charged with shooting dead two Indian fishermen mistaken as pirates from a merchant vessel, after a four-week leave.
The decision sparked an Indian Supreme Court ruling that Italy's Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini had no "legal immunity" anymore and could not leave India without permission, which Italy said was a violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
India replied that the move to keep the marines in Italy was itself a violation of international law, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh calling the situation "unacceptable."
While Italy says that the shooting took place in international waters, India insists the marines should be tried on its soil, where the accident happened.
The two marines are under investigation in Italy over the alleged murder and the use of their military weapons, according to local media reports.