Italy’s president “strongly irritated” by Indian rejection of marines’ travel appeals

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano was “strongly annoyed” that India’s Supreme Court has rejected travel appeals by two Italian marines held in India on murder charges, a presidential statement said on Tuesday.

India’s top court turned down the travel applications of two navy officers, Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, who were arrested in 2012 under suspicion of killing two Indian fishermen.

“The President of the Republic was strongly irritated by the news coming from New Delhi and regarding the latest negative developments in the case of the two marines,” Napolitano’s statement said.

“The president will remain in close contact with the government, and follow with great attention the guidelines that will be determined by Parliament,” it added.

In September, Latorre was allowed to return to Italy for medical treatment after a stroke. His request for extending his stay for another two months to receive a heart surgery was denied by the supreme court.

The Court also rejected Girone’s permission to travel back home for Christmas holidays. Both navy officers are currently on bail pending trial, with Girone being hosted in the Italian embassy in New Delhi.

Latorre and Girone were arrested in February 2012, after being accused of killing two fishermen during an international anti-piracy mission off the Kerala coast.

The two marines were guarding an Italian oil cargo and opened fire on a fishing boat approaching the ship. They alleged they had mistaken the boat for a pirate vessel and admitted opening fire, but denied killing the fishermen.

Italian authorities also maintained that New Delhi has no jurisdiction over Italian soldiers officially deployed abroad, and called for the settlement of the dispute by international arbitration.

India said the incident occurred in its waters and firstly invoked the domestic anti-terrorism and anti-piracy law to prosecute the marines, yet ruling out the possibility of a death penalty.

The case resulted in a two-year long bitter dispute between Rome and New Delhi, which usually share good ties.


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