Lunedì, 22 Aprile 2019
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EU backs Italy in marines row but Gandhi angry


(By Denis Greenan).
Rome, March 19 - The European Union on Tuesday
backed Italy in a diplomatic row with India over the alleged
murder by two marines of two Italian fishermen last year.
But the leader of India's ruling Congress party,
Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, voiced continued anger over Italy's
decision not to send the marines back, saying "no country can
take India for granted".
Catherine Ashton, the European Union's high representative
for foreign affairs, said Tuesday that India was violating the
Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations after India's Supreme
Court ordered Italy's ambassador to New Delhi not to leave the
The court imposed the order on Ambassador Daniele
Mancini after Rome said marines Massimilano Latorre and
Salvatore Girone would not return to India after being allowed
to come home last month to vote in Italy's general election.
Latorre and Girone are charged with shooting and killing on
February 15 last year Indian fishermen Jelestine Valentine and
Ajesh Binki from the oil tanker Enrica Lexie, which they were
guarding against pirates.
In her statement, Ashton said that: "the 1961 Vienna
Convention on Diplomatic relations is a cornerstone of the
international legal order and should be respected at all times.
"Any limitations to the freedom of movement of the
Ambassador of Italy to India would be contrary to the
international obligations established under this Convention".
Up to now the EU had seemed to be trying to distance itself
from an increasingly acrimonious row, saying it was a bilateral
Ashton expressed "concern" about the Indian Supreme Court's
March 14 decision to impose the ban on Mancini leaving India and
the March 18 decision to extend it until it next hears the case
on April 2.
The Vienna Convention states that the rights of diplomats
are "inviolable" and they cannot be detained.
However, the Indian Supreme Court said Mancini's case is an
exception, arguing that, on the basis of Article 32 of the
Vienna Convention, he "automatically lost" his diplomatic
immunity by signing a guarantee that the marines would return.
Rome, which has declared the travel ban "illegal", has
always denied that India has jurisdiction over the marines case,
saying the incident took place in international waters.
Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said last week that
the decision to not return the pair was legitimate and Italy had
a strong case which it wanted to put to independent arbitration.
An earlier deal, which allowed the marines to return to
Italy for Christmas, was respected by both governments and was
seen as a positive step - as well as a sign of goodwill -
towards a diplomatic solution.
"The High Representative continues to hope that a mutually
acceptable solution can be found through dialogue and in respect
of international rules and encourages the parties to explore all
avenues to that effect," read Ashton's statement.
Meanwhile, in New Delhi, the president of the ruling
Indian National Congress, Sonia Gandhi, described as
"unacceptable" Rome's decision not to return the marines.
She warned that "no country can take India for granted".
Speaking to senior Congress party figures, the Italo-Indian
president said India should do "everything possible" to bring
back Latorre and Girone.
"The defiance of the Italian government on the question of
the two marines and its betrayal of a commitment to our Supreme
Court is outright unacceptable," Gandhi said.
"All means must be pursued to ensure that the commitment
made by the Italian government to our Supreme Court is

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