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Italian ambassador hopes marine case will be fast, fair

June 20, 2013 18:32 IST

Italy on Thursday said the trial against its two marines, who allegedly killed Indian fishermen off Kerala coast last year, will be fast and fair and India will honour its commitment given to Rome.

"India has given commitment that the case will be fast and fair and I am confident that they will honour the commitment given to Italy that the case will be fast and fair," Italy's Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini told PTI.

Mancini, who met Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, however, refused to say anything when asked whether Italy was satisfied with the progress of the case.

"I do not want to get into that," he said.

Asked how the two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, were doing, the envoy said, "They are in the embassy compound. They are fine".

The two marines were on board an Italian vessel 'Enrica Lexie' when they had allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012.

Italy had maintained that since the incident had taken place in international water, Indian courts have no jurisdiction to conduct the trial.

However, the Supreme Court had ruled that the incident took place at a distance of about 20.5 nautical miles from the coastline of Kerala and, therefore, it occurred not within the territorial waters of the coastline of Kerala state, but within the Contiguous Zone.

The apex court had shifted the case to the national capital saying the Kerala Police has no jurisdiction over the case and backed the government's decision to hand over the case to NIA.

The Italian government had in April reversed its earlier decision not to send back to India the two marines, who had gone to Italy to cast votes in elections there.

Italy had reneged on its assurance to the Supreme Court on sending back the two marines but later gave in after the Indian government and the apex court took a firm stand with New Delhi warning that ties with Rome could be downgraded.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid had said in Parliament that case will not attract death penalty as it was not a rarest of rare case.

Khurshid had also sought to reassure the Italian government that assigning the case to NIA should be seen only as a task given to a probe agency not under the NIA Act but by nomination.

Last month, Italy had appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura as Special Envoy to work out a fair and balanced outcome of the matter.

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta, who assumed office on April 28, appointed Mistura as his Special Envoy to handle the marines issue.

India has already conveyed its intent to work out a balanced approach. 

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