Venerdì, 21 Settembre 2018
ROME

Diplomatic tussle over marines 'necessary' says Terzi

English
© ANSA

Rome, March 22 - Italian Foreign Minister Giulio
Terzi said Friday that a diplomatic tussle over returning two
marines accused of killing two fishermen to India had been
"necessary" to make sure the men did not face the death penalty.
"The situation is normalising," he told La Repubblica daily
after Italy's surprise climbdown Thursday night in a row that
saw India block the Italian ambassador from leaving the country.
Without buying time for talks by reneging on a pledge to
return the pair after a permit to vote in last month's Italian
elections, he said, "we would not have been able to negotiate
the current conditions, which envisage (good) conditions of
everyday living and the guarantee that the death penalty will
not applied", he said.
The government's turnaround continued to spur criticism at
home Friday with Silvio Berlusconi's Senate Whip Maurizio
Gasparri calling it "pitiful and inept" and the mayor of Bari,
one of the men's hometowns, calling it "indescribable".
Indian Premier Manmohan Singh said Friday he was "happy"
with the decision to return the marines to trial in India after
a diplomatic tug-of-war escalated between the two countries.
"I welcome the return of the Italian marines, which took
place according to directives issued by the Indian Supreme Court
and in coherence with the dignity of due process in India,"
Singh told journalists.
Italy promised the men would go back after last month's
election leave as they did after a Christmas break but did not
honour the pledge, angering India who stopped the Italian
ambassador from leaving the country.
Singh had said Italy's refusal to honour the pledge to turn
over the two men, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone,
"cast a shadow" over the two countries' relations.
On Thursday evening Italy's government said it had asked
and obtained from the Indian authorities written guarantees of
the treatment and the recognition of the marines' fundamental
rights as recognized by international law.
India's justice minister earlier on Thursday said the pair
had until Friday to return to the Asian nation, otherwise the
affair would escalate further.
The two marines had been held in India since February 2012
after a shooting incident in international waters in which two
Indian fishermen, Jelestine Valentine and Ajesh Binki, were
killed.
Italy has always denied that India has jurisdiction over
the case, as it took place in international waters.
As a sign of goodwill, the two marines were allowed to
return to Italy to spend Christmas with their families and -
after returning to India as agreed between the two governments -
were allowed back to Italy again to vote in February elections,
after which they did not return.

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