Giovedì, 18 Ottobre 2018
ROME

Marines return to India amid controversy

English
© ANSA

(By Kate Carlisle)
Rome, March 22 - Two anti-piracy marines accused
of killing two fishermen returned to India Friday after a
diplomatic tug-of-war escalated between the two countries.
In a surprise climbdown after a two-week face-off in
which the Italian ambassador was blocked in India, Rome
sanctioned their return Thursday night after receiving
assurances the death penalty was off the table.
Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid said Friday that
the Italian government's turnaround decision to hand back the
two marines was a "satisfying conclusion" to the diplomatic spat
between the two countries.
"I clarified that the Italian Republic is obliged to respect
the solemn commitment taken with the (Indian) Supreme Court,"
he said.
On Thursday Khurshid said the pair had until Friday to
return to the Asian nation, otherwise the affair would escalate
further.
The pair, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, left a
military airport in the southern city of Brindisi at about
1 am local time Friday.
Italy had 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 Ambassador Daniele
Mancini from leaving the country.
Indian Premier Manmohan Singh had said Italy's refusal to
honour the pledge to turn over Latorre and 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.
Minister Khurshid said on Friday that his government
intended to press ahead with the creation of a special tribunal
to examine the case of the two marines' trial by the Supreme
Court in New Delhi.
Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi on Friday rejected
calls to resign over the country's handling of the case.
Terzi said the ensuing diplomatic row had been "necessary"
to ensure the men would not face the death penalty if convicted
in India.
However critics said the about face had exposed Italy to
"ridicule" and called for the country's chief diplomat to
resign.
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.

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