PM warns Italy of consequences if marines aren’t sent back

Indo-Italian relations risked being undermined by Italy’s refusal to honour ‘solemn commitment’: PM

Liz Mathew &
Updated13 Mar 2013, 10:13 PM IST
Maintaining that the Italian government&#8217;s stand was &#8220;not acceptable,&#8221; PM Manmohan Singh said it had violated the &#8220;solemn commitment&#8221; extended by the Italian embassy to return the two marines to India to stand trial.  <br />
Maintaining that the Italian government&#8217;s stand was &#8220;not acceptable,&#8221; PM Manmohan Singh said it had violated the &#8220;solemn commitment&#8221; extended by the Italian embassy to return the two marines to India to stand trial. (Maintaining that the Italian government&#8217;s stand was &#8220;not acceptable,&#8221; PM Manmohan Singh said it had violated the &#8220;solemn commitment&#8221; extended by the Italian embassy to return the two marines to India to stand trial. )

New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned on Wednesday that Indo-Italian relations risked being undermined by the Italian government’s refusal to honour its “solemn commitment” and return to India two marines facing charges of killing a pair of fishermen off the Kerala coast last year.

add_main_image“This can’t be in the interest of the bilateral relationship of the countries, which rests on mutual trust. India wants these two persons to be returned. If they don’t keep their word. there will be consequences in relationship,” Singh said in the Lok Sabha.

He was responding after Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) senior leader Jaswant Singh asked the government how it proposed to deal with the situation created by Italy’s volte-face on the commitment it gave to India’s Supreme Court. Senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Basudeb Acharya also asked the government to make a statement on the issue. NextMAds

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were allowed to travel to Italy by the Supreme Court to vote in the recent elections there. They face charges of shooting dead two Indian fishermen after mistaking them for pirates off the Kerala coast on 12 February 2012.

Italy claims that the incident took place in international waters and has been attempting to get them tried in Italian courts. India says the shooting took place in its territorial waters.

Maintaining that the Italian government’s stand was “not acceptable”, Singh said it had violated the “solemn commitment” extended by the Italian embassy to return the two marines to India to stand trial.

“I urge the members of both the Houses to treat this matter with seriousness and to speak together as the government moves forward on this issue,” he said.

On Tuesday, the foreign ministry summoned the Italian ambassador and lodged a strong protest, saying it expects Italy to fulfil “the sovereign undertaking given by it to the Supreme Court” that the two marines would return to India to face trial.

Indian foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai told reporters on Wednesday that Italian envoy Daniele Mancini had been told in clear terms that India would not accept the note delivered by the Italian embassy in New Delhi communicating the decision not to return the two marines to India. sixthMAds

“We have made our position very clear. We have conveyed that the contents of the note are completely unacceptable,” Mathai said, adding that India would wait for a response from the Italian government before making its next move.

A person familar with the developments said India was likely to wait till 22 March—the date stipulated by the Supreme Court for the marines to return—before taking the next step.

Meanwhile, Mancini expressed confidence that India and Italy, “as two manture democracies”, would be able to find a solution to the crisis.

“We are working with the Indian institutions and the government in order to do whatever has to be done to pass and overcome this moment,” he told reporters after addressing a business meeting in New Delhi.

“We are a friendly government to the government of India. We are not enemies. We want to work with Indian government in all possible manner,” he said.

“In the last few days we tried to put forward several proposals before Indian authorities to solve this case by consensual means. We are working with the Indian government. We will see what happens next. I am confident that a solution can be found,” he added.

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First Published:13 Mar 2013, 10:13 PM IST
HomePoliticsPolicyPM warns Italy of consequences if marines aren&#8217;t sent back

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