Rome (dpa) – Italy‚Äòs foreign minister said Thursday she was confident of securing the return home from India of two marines accused of murdering two Indian fishermen.
The case of Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone has been a source of diplomatic friction ever since they were arrested in February 2012 after allegedly shooting the fishermen at sea while deployed on an Italian oil tanker. They say they had mistaking the fishermen for pirates.
“We are working on it, I am very hopeful,” Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said in Rome, when asked whether there was a chance that the soldiers would return to Italy by Christmas.
Speaking two days after meeting her Indian counterpart Salman Khurshid in Budapest, Bonino said authorities in New Delhi were “very keen to close the affair rapidly and in a way that is fair for all.”
Italy has always argued that the incident concerning its marines took place in international waters, thus outside India‚Äòs jurisdiction. In New Delhi, a federal anti-terror agency is investigating the case, pending a trial by a special court.
Earlier this year, Italy triggered an angry reaction from India as it threatened to renege on a pledge to return the marines to New Delhi after they had been granted a temporary leave home to vote in February general elections.
Authorities in Rome relented, handing back the two men on March 22 as promised, after receiving assurances from the Indian government that they would not face the death penalty.
Latorre and Girone are currently on bail and lodged at the Italian Embassy premises in New Delhi.