M A I N   N E W S

Marines row hots up; Rome summons Indian envoy
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, May 19
The diplomatic stand-off between India and Italy escalated today when Rome summoned Indian Ambassador Debabrata Saha to the foreign office in connection with the detention of two Italian marines, charged with the killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in February.

Saha met the Director General of the Italian Foreign Ministry. The Italian Government conveyed to him its 'concern' over the charges filed against the two sailors in custody in Kerala, official sources here said.

"They are very disappointed with the chargesheet which was filed yesterday and conveyed their sense of unhappiness. They have a clear position on this, they explained their position to me. They expressed their disappointment to me," Saha told a news channel.

The summoning of the Indian envoy came a day after Italy recalled its Ambassador to India Giacomo Sanfelice for consultations in the wake of the developments in the case relating to the two marines Massimillano Latorre and Salvatore Girone.

Rome's action came soon after a court in Kerala rejected the bail application of the two marines. The step clearly reflected that the court proceedings in India were not acceptable to the Italian authorities.

New Delhi says it appreciates the concern of the Italian Government in the matter but would not interfere with the functioning of the courts in the country.

The marines on board the Italian ship 'Enrica Lexie' had allegedly shot dead Indian fishermen Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Bi on February 15, apparently mistaking them for pirates.

The marines, who were arrested on February 19, are lodged in the Central Prison in Thiruvanathapuram under judicial remand

The diplomatic row has strained ties between the two countries. Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura, who is on his third mission to India to secure the release of the two marines, said the Italian envoy had been recalled to express 'profound displeasure' with the Indian government's handling of the case. ''We are sending a strong signal to avoid damaging our relationship,'' he said.

The ambassador was recalled after three telephone calls by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti to his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh, a visit by Italy's defence minister and his own missions to India, de Mistura was quoted as saying.

Rejecting the bail application of the two marines today, the court expressed doubts whether their presence could be ensured if they were granted bail.

Denying the bail, Kollam District Sessions Court judge P.D. Rajan expressed doubts over the assurance given by the Italian government that it would ensure the presence of the marines if and when they were summoned by an Indian court.

The court order comes a day after a special investigation team of the Kerala Police filed a 196-page chargesheet against the two Italians. 



Bail plea rejected
  • Rome's action comes soon after a court in Kerala rejected the bail application of the two marines
  • Earlier on Friday, Italy recalled its Ambassador to India Giacomo Sanfelice
  • New Delhi says it would not interfere with the functioning of the courts in the country
  • It argues that the two sailors would be tried under Indian laws
  •   Rome contends that since the incident occurred in international waters, the two marines could face the law in Italy





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