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Italy blocks Indian trial of marines
Times News Service
March 12, 2013 , 8 : 33 am
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Massimiliano Latorre (R) and Salvatore Girone (L) Photo - AFP
The Italian foreign ministry said on Monday the two Italian marines facing trial for killing two Indian fishermen they mistook for pirates, would not return to India.
Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were charged with the murder of two fishermen near the port city of Kochi in February 2012.They were allowed by the Kerela court to return to Italy on February 23 for a month to vote in elections which was supposed to be held on February 24 -25. The Italian government refused to send back the two marines even after their leave runs out.
When Indian government further probed into the matter, the Italian Foreign ministry said India had not responded to Italian requests to seek a diplomatic solution to the case and there was now a formal dispute between the two countries over the terms of the UN Convention of the Law of the Sea.
The Foreign Ministry's statement stated "Italy has always argued that the Indian authorities have violated their obligations under international law." India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is yet to respond, saying simply that it would read the contents of Italy's missive "carefully".
The murder case was transferred last month from a local court in the southern Indian state of Kerala to a "special court" in New Delhi which triggered diplomatic tensions between India and Italy.
The marines were granted special permission once before, to return home to Italy for Christmas, but later returned to India.
It is a huge loss for the UPA government, that had promised for justice in a Kerala court for the murder of the two Indian fishermen, whom the Italian marines said they mistook for pirates. Since then this case started a tussle between Rome and New Delhi. Italy claimed that the Indian courts have no jurisdiction to try the marines as the incident took place in international waters and according to the law of the sea, they should be tried in Italy.
A senior lawyer who was handling this case in Delhi said MEA would have to take the next step. "It is a very serious matter. The ambassador had undertaken to bring back the marines and he will be asked to do so. But this is a diplomatic row now," he said.
Compiled by Tanaya Dash with
input from agencies
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