New Delhi: In a major embarrassment to the UPA government, Italy has gone back on its word to send back two marines charged with killing of two fishermen off the Kerala coast back to India to face trial.
"Italy has always argued that Indian authorities have violated their obligations under international law...especially the principle of immunity from trial by the organs of a foreign state and the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
The decision not to send Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who had been allowed to come home to vote and meet their families, back to India was taken by Italy's defence and justice ministries in consultation with the prime minister's office, it said.
Italian foreign ministry also accused India of not responded to its requests to seek a diplomatic solution to the case, reports said.
The Marines were allowed a short leave so as to allow them to vote in the recently-concluded elections in their native country after a solemn assurance by Rome to New Delhi that the two would be sent back to India.
Here in New Delhi, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid was guarded in his response.
The minister said they have received a letter and added: “We will read the letter sent by the Italian government and then decide the future course of action.”
“There’s no point in commenting without reading what they have to say,” Khurshid stated further.
As the Parliament is in session, the government would find it difficult to face Opposition fire on the issue.
The two marines have been at the centre of a year-long international row for allegedly shooting dead two Indian fishermen after mistaking them for pirates off the southern Indian state of Kerala February 2012.
Italy claims the incident occurred in international waters and has been trying to get Latorre and Girone tried in Italian courts, while India contends the shooting occurred in its own territory.
Earlier, when the marines had gone home for Christmas, Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi had sent a “letter of guarantee” to his counterpart Salman Khurshid assuring him of their return.
First Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013, 08:24