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Italian marines' case may impact ties with India: European Commission

Thursday, 30 January 2014 - 11:30am IST | Place: Brussels | Agency: IANS

The president of the European Commission has said the issue of the Italian marines in India may have an "impact" on the European Union-India relations and "will be assessed carefully".

Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission, met Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta in Brussels Wednesday and discussed the case of the two Italian marines who are being held in India.

"A point that Prime Minister Letta has raised with me and on which we have been in close contact with the Italian authorities is the issue of the Italian marines in India. The European Union (EU) continues to follow the situation very closely," Barroso told a joint press conference with Letta afer the meeting.

"Any decision on the case may have an impact on the overall European Union-India relations and will be assessed carefully. The European Union encourages India to find, as a matter of urgency, a mutually satisfactory solution to the longstanding case of the Italian marines arrested in February 2012, in accordance with international law and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," he said.

Barroso said "this issue has also a bearing on the global fight against piracy, to which the European Union is strongly committed".

He said "the European Union is opposed to the use of the death penalty in all cases and under any circumstances". The European Commission is the executive body of the 28-member European Union.

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, mistaking the fishermen for pirates.

The Italian prime minister had sought European states' help to find a positive solution to the case.

"We want the marines case to finish soon, as soon as possible," Xinhua quoted Letta as saying following talks with President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy and Barroso.

Italian government's envoy Staffan De Mistura is set to head for New Delhi Thursday, while reports said a representative of the Italian government could meet the new Russian ambassador to Rome next week, asking him to intercede with Indian authorities in the case.

Earlier, a 16-member Italian parliamentary delegation arrived in India on a two-day visit (Jan 27-28) to express support and solidarity with the two marines.

"The death penalty would be an attack on Italy," Fabrizio Cicchitto, a delegate member and chairman of the parliament's lower house foreign affairs committee, said.


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