Kochi:  After being in jail for nearly 15 weeks, the two Italian marines charged with the killing of two Indian fishermen were on Wednesday granted bail by the Kerala High Court but with stringent conditions.

The Court also directed the Kerala government to ensure abundant caution and inform the seaport or other authorities to prevent the two accused from leaving the country.

The Court order in the case which sparked a diplomatic standoff between India and Italy came a day after it turned down that country's  plea for quashing an FIR against the marines Latore Massimilliano and Salvatore Girone. The court had held that the two accused were liable to penal jurisdiction of Indian courts.

Reacting to the order, the Kerala government said it was strongly opposed to the bail since it was not sure whether or not the two accused would be available for their trial in the state.

"We were strongly opposing the bail because may be the marines would not be available for trial in India," Kerala Home Minister T Radhakrishnan said and made it clear there is no question of an out of court settlement in the case.

Granting bail, Justice N K Balakrishnan said the two accused should execute a bond for Rs one crore each besides two Indian sureties each for an equivalent amount.

After release from jail, they shall stay in a building within a distance of 10 km from the office of the Kochi city Police Commissioner, appear before the Commissioner on all days between 10am and 11am and as and when required.

The marines should also furnish their mobile numbers if any, the court said, adding, they should not leave the territorial limits of the Commissioner's office.

The two sureties should also not leave the state. The magistrate shall ensure the identity of the sureties by insisting on production of photo identity card, the Court said. The marines were also asked to surrender their passport before the Kollam Magistrate Court.

Justice Balakrishnan made it clear that the accused should be released on bail on production of valid travel document, visa having been endorsed by a foreign registration officer.

The marines, who were arrested from the merchant vessel 'Enrica Lexie' on February 19 last from which they fired at the fishermen off Kerala coast on February 15, are at present lodged at the Borstal prison here.

(Agencies)

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