Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
NEW DELHI

Marines to get 'special' court, India assures

English
© ANSA

(By Denis Greenan).
New Delhi, April 5 - Two Italian marines accused
of killing two Indian fishermen will be tried by a special court
that cannot hand down the death sentence, New Delhi assured Rome
Friday after a day of conflicting reports.
Outgoing Italian Premier and interim Foreign Minister Mario
Monti telephoned Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid to "get
an update" on the formation of the special court, as decided by
India's Supreme Court on January 18, diplomatic sources in the
Indian capital told ANSA.
A special court can only hand down sentences of no longer
than seven years, according to recent reports.
Earlier on Friday it was reported that the case of
anti-piracy marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone,
accused in the February 2012 deaths of Ajesh Binki and Gelastine
(Valentine), would be handled by a normal court which could give
out life sentences, in violation of a deal Italy made in
returning the marines last month.
Also Friday, Deputy Italian Foreign Minister Staffan de
Mistura on Friday met Khurshid personally for assurances on the
marines after a new probe was opened by anti-terrorist police,
the Italian embassy in New Delhi told ANSA.
After the meeting, de Mistura warned journalists covering an
affair that has dented Italy's image abroad that "you should
only listen to official reports, not everything that appears in
the (Indian) media".
Earlier Friday, in confirmation of other news that had been
at least once denied, Indian officials told ANSA that a new
probe into the February 2012 incident off the southern coast of
the Kerala region is in the hands of India's anti-terrorist
National Investigation Agency (NIA).
An anti-terrorist inspector is on the case, they said.
"Inspector general P.V. Rama Sastry is in charge now," a NIA
spokesman told ANSA.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told ANSA that
the NIA would restart the probe from the initial charges, which
did not rule out the death penalty.
But this was later denied by what Khurshid said to Monti and
de Mistura.
There have been conflicting reports this week about the new
probe and the powers of the court.
On Wednesday New Delhi said there was "nothing official" in
reports about a special court which could only hand down limited
sentences or the investigating body.
Italy returned the marines to India after reportedly
receiving assurances they would not face the death penalty,
after a diplomatic tussle in which the Italian ambassador was
prevented from leaving India and the Italian foreign minister
eventually resigned.
On Monday, reports said the case had been reassigned from
local authorities to the NIA, which was set up after the 2008
terrorist attacks in Mumbai to combat national-security threats.
Italian officials are closely watching developments in the
case, in which Latorre and Girone, are accused of killing
Gelastine and Binki after allegedly mistaking them for pirates
while guarding the Enrica Lexie oil tanker.
Despite last week's controversial resignation of Foreign
Minister Giulio Terzi, accused by outgoing Premier Mario Monti
of having an eye to a political career on the centre right,
diplomatic tempers seemed to have cooled after Italy climbed
down after earlier reneging on a pledge to send the men back
following a four-week parole to vote in the February 24-25
general election.
The pair had previously returned from a Christmas break,
honouring Italy's pledge, solemnly filed by Ambassador Daniele
Mancini.
During the tug-of-war following the refusal to send the pair
back the second time, Indian airports were alerted not to let
Mancini out of the country.
On Wednesday a spokesman from the Indian foreign ministry
called the case "one of a kind" and "obviously very delicate".
"We know quite well that the (Indian) Supreme Court expects
us to quickly put together a special tribunal. We are working on
it, and we will be ready for the next hearing scheduled April
16," said Syed Akbaruddin.
He also added that the new Indian ambassador to Italy,
Ranjit Gupta, is scheduled to be instated "by the end of the
month".
Gupta was supposed to assume the post in January, but the
government opted to suspend the transition amid tensions over
the case of the Italian marines.

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