26/05/2016 1:17 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST

Italian Marine Salvatore Girone Is Free To Go Home, Rules Supreme Court

Italian outgoing Premier Mario Monti, left, shakes hands with marine Salvatore Girone upon his arrival from India at Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport, in Fiumicino, Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013. Italian marines Girone and Massimiliano Latorre have been allowed by the Supreme Court in India to travel home to vote in this weekend's general elections. (AP Photo/Angelo Carconi)

NEW DELHI -- The Supreme Court on Thursday said an Italian marine under investigation for the killing of two fishermen is free to go home while international arbitration into the case goes on.

Salvatore Girone, who has been living in the Italian embassy in New Delhi, was one of two marines arrested in 2012 on suspicion of killing the fishermen during an anti-piracy mission on an Italian oil tanker. The other marine is already back in Italy after suffering health problems.

The Supreme Court ruled that Girone can return to Italy while an international tribunal decides on a jurisdictional issue between India and Italy.

The marine must surrender his passport when he arrives in Italy and will be required to return to India within a month of an order from the tribunal, the court said in its order.

Italy's foreign ministry said it was "satisfied" with the court's decision.

"Salvatore Girone will be able to return home in just a few days' time," the ministry said.

The dispute has strained relations between India and Italy and its European Union partners.

In an effort to end four years of legal wrangling, both countries last year agreed to move their dispute to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.

Italy argues that the case should not be heard in India because the incident occurred in international waters. India has said it remains confident the tribunal will decide in its favour.

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