India-Italy row: Kerala cardinal advocates peace

Last Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 19:06

Rome: Amid a raging row over the killing of
two Indian fishermen by Italian soldiers, a cardinal from
Kerala has appealed to the state authorities not to resort to
"precipitate action" and warned the opposition against trying
to "exploit the situation".

After the last week incident, "I immediately contacted
the Catholic Ministers of Kerala urging the government not to
act precipitately," Kochi-based George Alencherry, Major
Archbishop of the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala who has
recently been elected a cardinal, told Catholic news agency
`Fides` here.

"In the episode, of course, there were errors, since the
fishermen were mistaken for pirates. But ... it seems that the
opposition party wants to take advantage of the situation and
exploit the case for electoral reasons, speaking of `Western
powers` or the `will of American dominance`," he was quoted as
saying.

Police in Kerala on Sunday arrested two Italian soldiers
guarding an Italian-flagged oil tanker on charges of gunning
down two fishermen. The duo -- Latore Massimiliano and
Salvatore Girone -- were yesterday remanded in three-day
police custody by a local magistrate who rejected their
contention that they cannot be prosecuted under Indian law.

Alencherry, who was made a cardinal at a ceremony by Pope
Benedict XVI in St Peter`s Basilica in Vatican City on
Saturday, is seeking a peaceful solution to the issue.

The cardinal was accompanied here by KV Thomas, Minister
of State for Agriculture, Consumer Affairs, Food and Public
Distribution.

Alencherry`s comments on the issue came as Italy
dispatched to India its Junior Foreign Minister Staffan De
Mistura, who will "continue on a political level the action
so far carried out by a delegation of experts from the Italian
foreign, defence and justice ministries."

In a statement, the Italian Foreign Ministry said that
Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi will also visit India next
Tuesday.

Terzi had yesterday said that there were "currently
considerable differences of a legal character" on the issue of
the arrest of the two Italian soldiers.

"Complicating an already complex situation are the
elections being held in Kerala that are without a doubt
influencing the feelings of the citizens and as a consequence
risk influencing the investigation," the Italian Foreign
Minister had claimed.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 19:06

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