The Italian marines facing murder charges in India will not be returned for trails, the Italian Foreign Ministry said Monday. The two marines were accused of fatally shooting two local fishermen off the Indian coast in February 2012.
The marines were allowed to go and vote in the national elections held in Italy last month. They were also allowed to go home and celebrate Christmas last year after the Italian ambassador gave assurance of their return and they did return on 10th January.
The Italian ambassador to New Delhi informed the Indian authorities that Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone “won’t return to India”. The Italian government claims that the trial in India would violate the marines’ rights, in particular the principle of immunity for foreign state actors. And they claim that the trial must be held in Italy because marines acted in self-defense and the incident took place in foreign waters, outside India’s jurisdiction. But the claims that fishermen were behaving “aggressively” and suspected to be pirates were unfounded as the fishermen were unarmed argue Indian sources.
The new Italian Government justified the move by stating that India had not responded to requests for a diplomatic solution to the case and hence, it is now raising a dispute over jurisdiction with India on the interpretation of a clause in the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
The marines were acting as guards on the Italian-flagged Enrica Lexie tanker as it sailed to Egypt from Singapore. Somali pirates are always a threat in this route. But once vessels pass the coast of Somalia and Oman, no threat has been detected as yet, towards the Indian coast.
Kerala chief minister Oomen Chandy has termed the move, “unacceptable” and is planning to take up the issue with External Affairs Ministry.
This trail, and allegations that Italian arms company, Finmeccanica SpA (FNC) paid bribes to secure a lucrative defense contract in India has strained diplomatic relations between the two countries.
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