Rome: Italy today rejected India`s claim to jurisdiction in the case of two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen and warned that it would seek international arbitration if could not reach an agreement with the new Indian government over the issue.
"Our government confirms the rejection of Indian jurisdiction," Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti said.
"They were on an anti-piracy mission and therefore covered by the immunity of being State officials and this certifies the international ambit of the case," Pinotti was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA.
Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are accused of killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012. The case is being investigated by the NIA. The two are in India for over two years.
The Italian government has said it hopes that India`s newly-elected government led by Narendra Modi will be open to negotiations, while stressing that it will take the case to international arbitration if the pair are not allowed to come home soon.
"It`s still possible to seek an agreement with the new Indian government, but if an agreement isn`t possible and we find ourselves faced with attempts at deferment or rejection, we`ll go ahead with the arbitration procedure and we hope to have them here as soon as possible".
The marines have been living and working at the Italian embassy in India pending charges in the case that has strained relations between India and Italy.
India has removed the possibility of a death penalty but insisted that the marines would still be prosecuted under the anti-piracy law and face up to 10 years in prison.