Italy-India: Letta reaffirms commitment to resolving marines case

Italy is working day by day to resolve the case of two Italian marines facing trial for murder in India, prime minister Enrico Letta said on Wednesday.

“The daily commitment will continue until we obtain the results we are expecting,” Letta told ambassadors to Italy during an address at Italys’ foreign ministry in Rome.

Italian officials have been working to secure the return of the two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who were detained in India for allegedly shooting dead two fishermen off the southern Indian coast in Feburary last year.

Italy’s head of state Giorgio Napolitano in a presidential address on 4 November said the government was “working hard” to bring the two marines home and would not cease to do so.

However, Italy’s envoy to India in the case, Staffan De Mistura said in late November the case would not be resolved by Christmas as had been hoped.

Latorre and Girone, who were guarding an oil tanker at the time of the incident, claim they merely fired warning shots into the sea in the direction of the fishermen’s boat, believing they were pirates.

Italy disputes India’s jurisdiction over the case, claiming the incident some 20 nautical miles off the coast of Kerala took place in international waters.

The case sparked a major diplomatic row between the two countries this year when Rome refused to return the two marines to New Delhi after they were allowed home to vote in national elections.

Amid escalating tensions, Italy only relented and sent Latorre and Girone back when it received assurances from India that the pair would not face the death penalty.

Latorre and Girone are currently on bail pending trial and are living and working at the Italian embassy in New Delhi.


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