Germany Enters Enrica Lexie Political Spat

Germany has reportedly stepped into the political spat involving the two Italian Marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen they mistook for pirates whilst protecting the Enrica Lexie in 2012.

Indian media reports that Michael Steiner, Germany’s ambassador to India, has said that smooth handling of the case is in the best interests of India, Italy and the EU. This comes after EU officials suggested the case may have a bearing on its relationship with India. The Hindustan Times quotes Steiner as saying, “Italy is part of the EU so we are following the case closely. It is on one hand a bilateral issue, but we think it is in the mutual interest of India, Italy and the EU to solve it smoothly, considering it has been going on for two years (now).”

Yesterday, the Indian Supreme Court pushed for a resolution of all outstanding issues surrounding the case. Since the incident, the two Marines, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, have both been under arrest in India since the incident, although they did leave the country which caused another rift in diplomatic relations between India and Italy until the two were returned. So far, no charge sheet has been filed against the men and the case has seemingly dragged on with no sign of resolution. The investigation is currently being handled by India’s National Investigation Agency, and the most recent twist is the possibility that both Italians could face the death penalty if found guilty.

Military ‘Vessel Protection Detachments’ operate under different rules to private maritime security company personnel and are only used by a few flag states who refuse to allow armed civilians on to their vessels. However, in recent months several national shipping associations have taken issue with military guards, with some complaining that there are too few to service their vessels.