Italy summons Indian envoy in marines case

Rome/New Delhi, Feb 18: Italy Tuesday summoned the Indian envoy in Rome to voice its “dismay” over the “unacceptable delay” in the trial of two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen.

The move comes as Italy also called its ambassador to India to Rome for “consultations” and to show Rome’s bitterness at the handling of the case of the marines, who have not been charged two years after the incident took place, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

In another development, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton warned India there could be “major consequences” after the Indian Supreme Court again delayed a decision on the marines.

In New Delhi, the apex court, which was to set to rule on whether to prosecute the marines on the basis of a harsh anti-terrorism law, asked the government to spell out its stand about the law under which the marines are to be tried.

An apex court bench headed by Justice B.S. Chauhan asked the government to spell out its stand in writing by next Wednesday, when it would take up the matter for further hearing.

Indian Ambassador Basant Kumar Gupta was summoned by the Italian foreign ministry to voice “dismay” at the “unacceptable delay” in trying Massimilliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone who have been held in India since February 2012 when they allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off the coast of the south Indian state of Kerala, mistaking them for pirates.

Italian Foreign Ministry Secretary General Michele Valensise told Gupta the case “shows an Indian desire to draw out the affair beyond all limits”, according to ANSA.

Italian envoy to India Daniel Mancini has also been summoned to Rome. Foreign Minister Emma Bonino called Mancini for “consultations” and to show Rome’s bitterness at the handling of the case.

“This measure is the limit and what’s even bigger is the indignation that has hit the whole nation and cannot fail to spread to the entire international community,” said Defence Minister Mario Mauro. “There is no justice in this case. We are faced with ambiguous, unreliable behaviour on the part of the Indian authorities.”

Latorre and Girone are accused of killing fishermen Valentine (aka Gelastine) and Ajesh Binki after mistaking them for pirates. The marines were serving as security personnel on an Italian oil tanker oil-tanker MT Enrica Lexie crossing the Indian Ocean.

India claims jurisdiction in the case while Italy alleges the incident took place in international waters and the marines should be tried in their home country.

IANS