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Italy to seek international help over trial of marines

Italy to seek international help over trial of marines

Rome: Italy will take up at the "international level" the trial of two marines in India for the killing of two Indian fishermen, Premier Enrico Letta has said.

Speaking days before India's Supreme Court takes up Italy's challenge to the invocation of an anti-terrorism law against the marines, Letta said his government "plans to send an Italian House delegation to New Delhi" over the issue.

The Italian Prime Minister vowed to move at an "international level" on the issue of Marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, Italian news agency ANSA reported. He did not give details of the actions his government intends to take.

In a statement issued after Letta held a meeting yesterday with Foreign Minister Emma Bonino and Defence Minister Mario Mauro, the government reiterated its "firm expectation that the Indian government would keep its assurances...that the case in question does not fall under anti-piracy norms (that include capital punishment as a possible sentence)".

Letta also said he "was happy with the solidarity expressed by the European Union".

The marines allegedly shot dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012, sparking diplomatic tensions between India and Italy. Both men could face the death penalty if convicted.

Italy approached the Indian Supreme Court on January 15 amid fears that the National Investigation Agency intends to prosecute the marines under the anti-terror Suppression of Unlawful Acts against safety of Maritime Navigation And Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act, which carries the death penalty.

On Monday, the apex court will hear the petition, including a demand for the marines to be allowed to return to Italy till proceedings begin against them.

An Italian parliamentary delegation also plans to travel to India to lend support to the marines, ANSA reported.

In December, President Giorgio Napolitano said the trial of the marines had run into "difficulty" because of upcoming general elections in India.

The marines, deployed on the Italian-flagged oil tanker MT Enrica Lexie, have said they mistook the fishermen for pirates. They are now staying in the Italian embassy in New Delhi awaiting trial.

Rome wants the marines to be tried in Italy, claiming the incident took place in international waters. However, New Delhi said it has the right to try the Italian personnel as the victims were Indian on board an Indian fishing boat.


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