PM warns Italy of 'consequences' over marines case

Mar 14, 2013, 03:37 IST | Agencies

Relations between India and Italy remained tense after New Delhi warned Rome of 'consequences' in bilateral ties over its refusal to send back two marines facing trial for killing two Indian fishermen, an action which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described as 'unacceptable'.

The Italian government said it was prepared to resolve the legal dispute according to international law as the marines were facing trial in a court in Rome. The prime minister, taking a tough stand in parliament over the diplomatic fracas with a leading European power, said if Italy does not keep its word “there will be consequences”.

“Our government has already made it clear that these actions of the government of Italy are not acceptable,” PM Singh told the parliament on Wednesday morning.

Breathing fire: A fisherwoman shouts slogans against the ruling UPA government in Trivandrum yesterday over the handling of the two Italian marines on trial for murder. Pic/AFP

“They violate every rule of diplomatic discourse and call into question solemn commitments given by an accredited representative of a government. This cannot, by any standards, be in the interests of any bilateral relationship that has to function on the basis of trust,” he said.

He said Italy’s actions were ‘unacceptable’ and ‘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 was after Arun Jaitley, the Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, described the Italian response as ‘enemy action’ and urged the government to ‘forget diplomacy’ and respond strongly.

The Indian reactions came after Italy informed India that the two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, would not return to India. They are facing trial for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast last year, mistaking them for pirates.

India had summoned the Italian envoy, Daniele Mancini, on Tuesday and conveyed to him ‘in the strongest terms’ that Rome was ‘obliged’ to ensure the return of the two marines.
The Supreme Court on Feb 22 allowed the two marines to fly to Italy to vote in the Feb 24-25 national elections.

The apex court was given an undertaking by the ambassador that the marines will return in four weeks to face legal proceedings in India.

Responding to India’s stand on the standoff, Italian diplomatic officials in a statement on Wednesday said that Rome was ready to negotiate the case based on international law.

“The judgment by the Supreme Court of India on Jan uary 18 has denied Italian jurisdiction on the case and invited both countries to engage in a common effort based upon Article 100 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the statement said.

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