Fishermen killing: Italy sends envoy to India

Italy`s Defence Ministry has claimed the Indian fishing boat behaved aggressively and was repeatedly warned before shots were fired.

Updated: Feb 21, 2012, 18:56 PM IST

Rome: Italy on Monday sent a top diplomat to
India and said Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi will visit next
week amid an escalating row over two Italian soldiers arrested
for killing two Indian fishermen.

Junior Foreign Minister Staffan De Mistura 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," the Foreign Ministry said in a note.

"Minister Terzi will visit personally next Tuesday,"
the note said.

The Foreign Ministry also said that Indian police had
taken "coercive" and "unilateral" action when it escorted the
two soldiers off the oil tanker where they were deployed as
security guards and arrested them on Sunday.

The soldiers, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore
Girone, members of the elite San Marco Marine regiment, were
on board the tanker to guard against piracy and Italy has said
they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

The tanker was sailing from Singapore to Egypt when
the incident took place.

Italian authorities insist that the men should not be
prosecuted in India as the tanker, the Enrica Lexie, was
flying under an Italian flag in international waters when the
shooting occurred on Wednesday off southern India.

Italy`s Defence Ministry has claimed the Indian
fishing boat behaved aggressively and was repeatedly warned
before shots were fired. It said the officers fired warning
shots and the boat left "with no obvious damage."

But India has protested fiercely against the deaths of
the unarmed men and said that the suspects must face justice
in local courts.

PTI