Home WORLD Indian anger over Italy decision on marines – BBC News

Indian anger over Italy decision on marines – BBC News

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Italian marines Latore Massimiliano, left and Salvatore Girone arrive to appear before a court in Kollam in southern Kerala state, India, Monday, April 30, 2012.Italy wants the marines to be tried at home


There has been an angry reaction in India to Italy’s decision not to send back two Italian marines charged with the murder of two fishermen in Kerala.

Opposition MPs held up proceedings in parliament demanding the government explain how it would respond.

A group of left-wing MPs from Kerala who met PM Manmohan Singh said he had called Italy’s move “unacceptable”.

The marines are accused of shooting the fishermen dead in February 2012 after allegedly mistaking them for pirates.

Rome says Delhi is violating international law by putting them on trial in India.

India’s Supreme Court had allowed Massimilian Latorre and Salvatore Girone to go home to vote in last month’s elections. The marines were ordered to return within four weeks.

Monday’s statement from the Italian foreign ministry said that 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.


‘Betrayal and bluff’

On Tuesday, Indian opposition parties criticised the Italian government for its refusal to send back the marines.

“This is betrayal and bluff by the Italian government. It is a breach of trust between two sovereign nations and the act is completely unacceptable,” Press Trust of India quoted Rajiv Pratap Rudy, a spokesman for the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, as saying.

“The Indian government should take every step to retrieve the fugitives immediately and conduct trial under Indian laws and in Indian courts,” he added.

A delegation of left-wing MPs from Kerala, who met the prime minister on Tuesday morning, said Mr Singh had described Italy’s decision as “unacceptable”.

“We met the prime minister and took up the issue of Italian marines… He assured us that he will ask the external affairs minister to look into this issue to intervene,” MP MB Rajesh said.

Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said the government was examining the letter from Rome.

“I know it’s a Supreme Court’s decision but it’s also a matter of our country’s collective decision. We can’t pass the ball on to anybody. Let’s just read what is said. Let’s understand their position and we will respond.”

Meanwhile, the wife of one of the two fishermen who were killed said the marines must be brought back to India to stand trial.

“This is nothing but a conspiracy at the highest level and the Indian government should see that they bring back the two marines to stand trial in the case in our country,” news website Firstpost.India quoted Dora, wife of Selestian Valentine, as saying.

“This should not happen to any other family, I have not received justice,” she added.


‘Unarmed’

India says the fishermen, Selestian Valentine and Ajesh Pinky, were unarmed.

At the time of the shooting, the marines were guarding an Italian oil tanker off India’s south-western coast.

Italy says that the Indian fishing boat had behaved aggressively and ignored warning shots from their ship, the oil tanker MV Enrica Lexie.

Rome wants its nationals to be tried in Italy, saying the incident took place in international waters and the Indians do not have jurisdiction in the case.

The marines have been on bail awaiting trial. The Indian Supreme Court said in January they would be tried in a special court in Delhi.

Indian anger over Italy decision on marines – BBC News

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