Taking a firm stand on Italy's refusal to send back two of its Marines to face trial in case related to killing of Indian fishermen, India Tuesday summoned the Italian ambassador and was told that India expects the duo to be sent back to face trial.
In the morning , Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that “Italy’s refusal to send back marines is unacceptable”. He stated that the government will look into the matter.
Later in the day, Italian Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini was summoned by India's foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai who after meeting him said “India's position on the matter was conveyed to him in the strongest of terms.”
Mathai stated that Italy is obliged to ensure that the two Marines return in the time frame given by (India's) Supreme Court (till March 22).
“He (Italian Ambassador) simply took note of the position conveyed to him that message we have received from his embassy was not acceptable and he said he would convey that to his government and authority in Rome,” Mathai added.
Meanwhile, a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that, “it was conveyed to the Italian Ambassador that the Italian Government was obliged to ensure their return to India within the stipulated period as per the terms of the SC order.”
“Government of India states firmly that it does not agree with the position conveyed by the Italian Government on the return of the two Marines to India. It was conveyed to him (Italian Ambassador) that India expects Republic of Italy as a country that is committed to the rule of law to fulfil the sovereign undertaking given by it to the Supreme Court of India,” the statement added.
The two Italian marines are accused of shooting dead two Indian fishermen after mistaking them for pirates near the Kerala coast in February last year. They were allowed by SC last month to go to Italy for four weeks to take part in their election. As per the order they are stipulated to return before March 22. They were also allowed during Christmas in 2012 to go back and meet their families.
The statement noted that it was only following “this undertaking that the Supreme Court allowed the two Marines to travel to and remain in Italy for a period of four weeks and return to India under the care, supervision and control of the Italian Republic.”
MEA also revealed that it had received a note verbale from the Embassy of Italy in New Delhi late in the evening of 11 March 2013 regarding the SC decision of 18 January 2013 on the Italian Marines issue.
MEA said that their note conveyed that Italy deems that there is an existing controversy with India concerning the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Seas of 1992 and the general principles of international law applicable to the Enrica Lexie incident.
By the note verbale dated 11 March 2013, Italy has informed that "since a controversy between the two States has been established, the two Italian Marines, Mr. Latorre and Mr. Girone, will not return to India on the expiration of the permission granted to them”.
“They requested the Indian government to set up a meeting at diplomatic level in order to reach an amicable solution of the said controversy. A request had earlier been received in this regard on 6 March 2013. The Italian request of 6 March 2013 is under examination,” MEA added.