Ashwani Kumar welcomes Italy's decision to return marines
New Delhi: Union Law and Justice Minister Ashwani Kumar on Friday said the Italian Government's decision to return the marines is a welcome development, and added that it has vindicated the Indian judicial system and India's diplomacy.
"It has vindicated India's diplomacy and the pro-active articulation of India's perspective with the Italian Government as today. I hope that this matter will now be resolved according to time tested and repeatedly validated process of the Indian judicial system," said Kumar.
"The Indian judiciary will render justice according to law to all, including the marines," he added, while talking to the media outside Parliament here.
The Italian Government on Thursday said that it would return to India two marines facing murder charges in the shooting deaths of two fishermen.
The announcement reversed an earlier decision by the Italian Foreign Ministry saying the pair would not return on March 22 as agreed when they were granted permission to return home to vote in Italian elections.
Italy's previous decision not to send the marines - Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone - to face trial triggered a diplomatic standoff.
The Supreme Court on Monday ordered Italy's Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini not to leave the country till April 02, when the next hearing into the killing of two Kerala fishermen allegedly by two Italian marines is scheduled.
The apex court further indicated that all authorities should take appropriate steps on the order restraining the Italian envoy from leaving the country.
Mancini, meanwhile, told the apex court that he had complete immunity under the Vienna Convention.
The apex court said that it would not accept nor does it believe the ambassador's statement, as he had lost trust of the court by going back on his word.
Asserting that there will be consequences if the Italian Government does not respect its commitment and return the two marines to India, Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh had earlier said that there can be no two opinions about the actions that have been taken by the Italian Government on the matter raised by the members.
"Our government has already made it clear that these actions of the Government of Italy are not acceptable. They violate every rule of diplomatic discourse and call into question solemn commitments given by accredited representatives of a sovereign government to our Supreme Court," said Dr Singh.
"Our government has therefore insisted that the Italian authorities respect the undertakings they have given to the honourable Supreme Court and return the two accused persons to stand trial in India. If they do not keep their word there will be consequences for our relations with Italy," said Dr Singh.
The two Italian marines, Salvatore Latorre and Massimiliano Girone, charged with homicide for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012 after mistaking them for pirates, were permitted by the Supreme Court to go to Italy for four weeks to vote in last month's election.
The two were allowed to go home during Christmas. They returned to India on the expiry of their leave.