Marines chargesheeted; Italy ‘strongly displeased’

A Sessions Court in Kollam today rejected the bail plea of the two Italian marines.

Zeenews Bureau

New Delhi: A day after chargesheet was filed against the two Italian marines arrested in connection with the killing of two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast, Italy has indicated that it is not happy with the developments here.

Rome on Friday recalled its envoy from New Delhi with a top Italian official today saying the move was aimed at signalling his government’s "strong displeasure" with New Delhi’s handling of the case.

The remarks came even as a Sessions Court in Kollam today rejected the bail plea of the two Italian marines, holding that granting it might affect progress of the case.

The marines - Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone – have been under detention for the last three months.

The marines on board the Italian ship `Enrica Lexie` had allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen -- Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Bi -- on February 15, apparently mistaking them for pirates.

The marines, who were arrested on February 19, are lodged in the Central Prison at Thiruvanathapuram under judicial remand.

Italy`s Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura, who is in India to push for the release of the sailors, said the decision to recall the ambassador was taken after diplomatic efforts failed.

So far, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti has spoken to PM Manmohan Singh thrice on phone, while Italy`s Defence Minister and his own missions have travelled to India for talks.

It also followed the "absurd accusation of premeditated murder", De Mistura told a news agency.

"It is a signal of profound displeasure," he said.

Asked whether the case had damaged Italian-Indian ties, De Mistura said: "We are sending a strong signal to avoid damaging our relationship."

The Ministry of External Affairs has played down the recall, saying it did not indicate relations had soured.

Police had yesterday filed the chargesheet in a court here charging the marines with murder under the Indian Penal Code and also invoking the International Maritime Law in the incident which had led to a diplomatic row between India and Italy.

Within hours after the charge sheet was filed, Italy called back its Ambassador to India for "consultations".

Italy insists that since the incident occurred in international waters, the marines should be tried in Italian courts rather than Indian courts.

(With agency inputs)

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