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Death penalty for marines was unacceptable: Italian minister

March 23, 2013 20:36 IST

Asserting that mistakes were made by both sides, Italy on Saturday said India should have realised from the beginning that Kerala judges did not have jurisdiction over the case involving the two Italian marines accused of killing Indian fishermen.

"Instead of saying where they (India) made a mistake, (I would) rather say what we could have done better. We should have been able, at the beginning, to realise that Kerala judges were, in fact, as the Supreme Court has indicated, the wrong place to handle an extremely complicated case," Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Steffan de Mistura told CNN-IBN during an interview.

He said the issue of jurisdiction with regard to a Kerala court should have been settled much earlier.

"We would have been able to find some formula much earlier. There was a feeling that perhaps there was a strategy for prolonging this," he said.

Asked if he felt that Italy was being lured into a trap, he said, "No. We could have been perhaps, falling into an agenda, of Kerala related political environment, which is human."

He said Italy got emotional as it was waiting for eleven months for the judgement to be delievered

"We too have families. We too, like you, trust our military should be defended when they are on duty," he said.

Stressing that the suspension of the assurance given by its ambassador to the Supreme court was "painful", Mistura said the breakthrough in the 11-day impasse came after an assurance from India that the death penalty "would not be applicable".

Defending Italy's initial decision not to send back their marines even at the cost of a diplomatic breach of assurance, Mistura said the death penalty was unacceptable and became an issue for the Italian government.

He stressed that the special court to try the marines, as dictated by the Supreme Court, should be "fast, quick, expeditious".

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