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Future of anti-piracy missions tied to marines case: Italian minister

Thursday, 6 February 2014 - 8:33am IST | Agency: IANS

Italian Defence Minister Mario Mauro has said that India should allow the two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen to come home pending trial while stressing that Italy's future in fighting piracy was on the line. "Italian participation in future anti-pirate missions is tied to the positive resolution of the legal case of the two marines, which should conclude with their honourable return home," Mauro told the Joint Parliamentary Commission for Foreign Affairs and Defence Wednesday, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Laura Boldrini, speaker of Italy's Lower House, has written to her equivalent in the European Parliament, Speaker Martin Schulz, urging him to join in demanding full respect for international law through a rapid resolution of the case, said the news agency.

The two Italian marines -- Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre -- are facing trial for murder in India. The two were detained in February 2012 when they shot dead two Indian fishermen while guarding an Italian oil tanker off Kerala coast, mistaking the fishermen for pirates. "While not wishing in any way to express myself on the merits of the court case, I believe that Italy -- and, with it, Europe and the international community -- must demand respect for international law and a rapid resolution of the case," Boldrini wrote.

She said that she would be visiting Brussels, where the European Parliament is based, Feb 19 and 20, and suggested they discuss the situation further. She also reminded Schulz of comments by other EU officials, including warnings just one day earlier that India's attempts to prosecute the Italian marines may hurt efforts to fight the crime of piracy in future. "The case is likely to have negative impacts on the EU's efforts and those around the world in the fight against piracy," the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton said in a letter Tuesday to European Parliament Deputy Speakers Gianni Pittella and Roberta Angelilli, ANSA said.

The fate of the two Italian marines accused of killing Indian fishermen remains uncertain as the Indian government has requested the Supreme Court for more time to take a call on the provision of law under which they will be tried. The court Monday granted a week's time to the government to arrive at a definite conclusion and directed listing of the matter for hearing Feb 10.




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