NEW DELHI (AP) — India's Supreme Court ruled Thursday that an Italian marine can return home while a U.N. arbitration tribunal decides which nation should have jurisdiction in a case involving the fatal shootings of two Indian fishermen in 2012 in which he and another marine are implicated.
Salvatore Girone was free on bail before the Supreme Court ruling, but had been asked to remain in New Delhi.
The case has strained relations between India and Italy. The countries disagree on the facts of the case and over which nation should have jurisdiction.
India has accused Girone and Massimiliano Latorre of killing the two fishermen in Indian waters while they were assigned to anti-piracy duties aboard an Italian commercial ship.
Italy says the marines thought the fishermen were pirates and that the shooting occurred in international waters, and has taken the case to international arbitration.
India insists it has jurisdiction, while Italy argues that the case should be heard in an Italian court. Italy has also complained that in four years the two marines have yet to be formally charged with any crime.
The U.N. tribunal earlier asked India to allow Girone to return home while the arbitration proceedings take place. Latorre has been in Italy since 2014 for medical treatment after suffering a stroke in India.
India's Supreme Court also ruled Thursday that Girone should return to India if the tribunal decides in Delhi's favor.
Italy welcomed Thursday's ruling and pledged to abide by the conditions set by the court, a Foreign Ministry statement said.
Associated Press writer Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.