Seoul: Expressing concern over the "nature
of imprisonment" of two Italian marines in Kerala, Prime
Minister Mario Monti on Monday pressed his counterpart Manmohan
Singh to find "some solution" to the issue that has become a
major irritant in bilateral ties.
Mario took up the issue with Singh when they met here on
the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, over a month
after the two marines were arrested for allegedly killing two
Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast.
Singh explained to Monti that a judicial process was
underway and the Italian leader said he respected it, Indian
Monti conveyed to Singh the "strong public interest" in
his country to have "some solution" to the row, they said.
Sources said that the Italian Prime Minister made no
specific request on the issue and conveyed to the Prime
Minister that he respected the India`s judicial process.
Monti wanted to know whether anything could be done
within the framework, what law is allowed and what could be
done in the future to take forward their concerns.
"Basically the nature of the imprisonment of their two
personnel ... he (Monti) mentioned this in a roundabout way,"
the sources said, adding that these exchanges took place
directly between the two Prime Ministers.
The Italian Prime Minister was trying to convey the "very
strong" public interest back home on the issue.
Monti conveyed the "very strong public interest that in
having some kind of solution that does not amount to the kind
of imprisonment that they are currently under in India," the
Italy, India relations have been under stress since last
month when Indian authorities arrested two Italian navy
personnel over the killing of two Indian fishermen by marines
aboard an Italian vessel `Enrica Lexie`.
Italy had been claiming jurisdiction over the case
contending that the incident took place in International
waters. The Indian authorities said they took action
as the killing took place in the Indian territory.
The fishermen were killed on February 15 night when a
navy security team on-board the Italian vessel `Enrica Lexie`
opened fire on a boat mistaking it for a pirates vessel off
the coast of Kerala.
A murder case had been registered against the crew, the
first in a series of wrangles that saw India and Italy
disagree over the admissibility of trying the marines under
the Indian law.
More recently, Maoists took Italian tourist Claudio
Colangelo and tour guide Paolo Bosusco hostage for taking
photos of tribal women bathing in a river in Kandhamal
Recently, the Kerala high court observed that killing of
two Indian fishermen by the Italian marines onboard a merchant
ship was a "terrorist act" as they had fired at unarmed men.
The case has been adjourned to March 27.