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Home English Fury in Italy after UN calls marines case bilateral

Fury in Italy after UN calls marines case bilateral


Rome, February 12 - Italian politicians voiced
fury on Wednesday after United Nations Secretary-General Ban
Ki-moon said the case of two Italian marines facing terrorism
charges in India for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen on
an anti-piracy mission was a "bilateral issue".
In the face of widespread calls for a reaction, Foreign
Minister Emma Bonino said she would brief the Senate Thursday
morning after Rome on Tuesday appealed to the United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) when New Delhi
prosecutors asked the pair be charged under an anti-terror law.
Premier Enrico Letta reaffirmed the government's "utmost"
commitment to resolving the case and "bringing the marines
Defence minister Mario Mauro, meanwhile, said the case must
also be won within the UN and acknowledged as a global issue.
"On the case of the marines, the government has set clear
two actions: one is the internationalization of the case, so the
tug of war with the UN must be won for this," Mario Mauro said.
"One can't think it is a matter only between Italy and
India, for one simple reason.
"It deals with two soldiers on a national mission, but which
responds to a global society need, which is to put a stop to
piracy and terrorism".
Italy's Permanent Representative to the European Union,
Stefano Sannino, voiced satisfaction for the support Italy has
received from the EU.
The Italian ambassador told an Italian parliament committee
that Catherine Ashton, the EU high commissioner for foreign
affairs, was doing "important work" for the marines.
"She expressed clear positions in the last (EU) foreign
affairs council," Sannino said, adding she had done the same
also "in declarations and in clear positions with
the Indian authorities" after Tuesday's EU foreign ministers'
European Commission Vice President Antonio Tajani called
India's bid to use the terrorism charge "shameful".
Tajani said the marines "were in the Indian Ocean to defend
our trade rights.
"Not recognizing their role as defenders of the law would
have serious consequences not only in Italy, but in all
countries involved in the struggle against piracy".
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was
"personally concerned" about the possible terrorism rap.
Rasmussen said the case could have "negative implications"
for the fight against piracy, in which both the EU and NATO are
engaged with major operations against Somali pirates in the Gulf
of Aden and the Indian Ocean.
Bonino said Tuesday that "The High Commissioner for Human
Rights has agreed to assess (Italy's) petition".
The marines have been unable to leave India, apart from
two leave permits, for two years.
Italy claims their human rights have been infringed and
has won backing from the European Union, which has said the case
threatens India's relations with the EU and the future of
international anti-piracy missions.
Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have been living
and working at the Italian embassy in New Delhi pending charges
for allegedly killing Valentine (aka Gelastine) and Ajesh Binki
after allegedly opening fire on their fishing trawler while
guarding the privately owned Italian-flagged oil-tanker MT
Enrica Lexie off the coast of Kerala in February 2012.
Italy has said use of the terror law equates Italy with
being a terrorist State.
Ban dealt a blow to Rome's hopes of getting UN support
late on Tuesday.
"It's better for the question to be addressed bilaterally,
rather than with the involvement of the United Nations," Ban
His comments were seen as hand-washing by many in Italy
and provoked an angry response.
The parliamentary defence and foreign affairs commissions
requested Wednesday for the examination of a government decree
on Italy's international missions to be suspended until Bonino
reports to lawmakers on Ban's comments.
"The United Nations has once again confirmed its expensive
uselessness with the secretary-general, a marginal, irrelevant
figure on the world arena, refusing to make the kidnapping of
our marines in India an international issue," said Maurizio
Gasparri, a Senator for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's
centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party.
"Ban Ki-moon offends Italy by relegating the issue to the
level of a dispute between our country and India, when we are
faced with the arrogance of a pirate state with the respect to
our soldiers".

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