Much noise has been made by the Italian government about the “plight” of its two marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, who have been “incarcerated” in India, awaiting trial over the killing of two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012. Earlier this week, Italy said it was considering “international arbitration”.
However, unlike other murder accused, Girone and Latorre are not really “incarcerated” or cut off from their families and the rest of the world. They live in cottages in the compound of the Italian embassy, in the heart of Delhi’s diplomatic enclave. They are free to move within the city, enjoy access to phones and Internet, and are hosted by expats in their free time.
While their families visit them occasionally, they chat with them regularly via Skype. One of them, Latorre, even got engaged to his companion Paola Moschetti in September last year. They had a small ceremony in the embassy complex, attended by their families and diplomats. Paola and Girone’s wife, Vania, visited the duo in February this year.
Adjoining the embassy in Chanakyapuri is the Italian cultural centre which has a cafe run by celebrity chef Ritu Dalmia. The two marines are known to frequent this cafe. “They go to a gym in the neighbourhood almost everyday,” said a police source, adding that they also go to a local church every Sunday.
During the week, the marines work in the embassy’s defence section. While they spend most of their time within the embassy compound, they go out sometimes but try to avoid public spaces. Once a week, they have to report to the Chanakyapuri police station.
Besides their family and friends, the duo get phone calls from none other than their prime minister — one of the first phone calls made by the new Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in February this year was to Girone and Latorre, in which he expressed his government’s commitment to bring them back — and get visits from Italian MPs.
The expatriate Italian community hosts them during festive occasions or weekends. They also receive invitations from some European families sometimes.
On Friday, Italy’s Liberation Day, Girone, who tweets under the handle @GironeSalvatore, posted, “Happy April 25th! A special hug to all the marines, with the hope that our Liberation can happen soon”.
Latorre, who is quite regular on Facebook, thanked a group of motorcycle riders who took out a rally with the slogan, “Free riders for free sailors”. “Sincere best wishes to all Italians. Allow me then to greet and be able to express my most sincere wishes to all Italians…”
Sources said the marines, who have access to the library at the Italian cultural institute, regularly scan all Indian publications to get information on their case.