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PM warns Italy of 'consequences' over marines

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned Italy today of "consequences" in bilateral ties if its two marines, accused of killing two Indians, don't return to India.

"If Italy does not keep its word, there will be consequences," a grim faced Manmohan Singh told the Lok Sabha. He made an identical statement in the Rajya Sabha.

PM warns Italy of 'consequences' over marines
Prime Minister Manmohan SIngh 

"Our government has made it clear that these actions of Italy are not acceptable," he said.

"They violate every rule of diplomatic discourse and call into question solemn commitments given by accredited representatives of a sovereign government to our Supreme Court. This cannot, by any standards, be in the interests of any bilateral relationship that has to function on the basis of trust."

The prime minister said India had told Italian authorities to respect the undertakings they gave to the Supreme Court and return the two marines to stand trial in India for killing two Indian fishermen.

"If they do not keep their word, there will be consequences for our relations with Italy.

"I would also urge all members of the house to treat this matter with the seriousness it deserves, acting and speaking together as the government moves forward on this issue," he added.

The Supreme Court in February allowed marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone to fly to Italy to vote in the national election.

The apex court was told the marines would return in four weeks to face the Indian law.

Earlier in the Lok Sabha, Jaswant Singh of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) asked why the Italians were allowed to return to Italy at the first place.

"Why was this exception made in the Italian case. Do we permit similar treatment to Indians? The government of Italy has gone back on its promise that they will come back. India should not tolerate this kind of treatment... What do you intend to do?" he asked.

Basudeb Acharia said, "There is a system of postal ballot in Italy. Why weren't the marines allowed to cast their votes through that? What steps has the government taken against the (Italian) ambassador? The entire country is agitated."

In the Rajya Sabha, opposition leader Arun Jaitley said Italy's decision was "enemy action" and urged India to "forget diplomacy" and act.

"We have heard of state-sponsored terrorism, but this by a democratic country which ostensibly committed to the rule of law, this seems to be the first such case of a state-sponsored deception and state-sponsored abduction," he said.

Jaitley said the Italian government deceived India by saying they needed to be physically present to vote while they could have voted through mail.

"They have broken every rule of democracy. It is time for the government of India to act. This now must be treated in the category of enemy action," he said.

He also sought action against the Italian ambassador who had promised the Supreme Court that the marines would return to India.

"Once you have submitted, you don't have diplomatic privileges.The law minister may exami 

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