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Marine 'not returning' to India violation of solemn undertaking by Italy: Shashi Tharoor

Marine not returning to India violation of solemn undertaking by Italy: Shashi Tharoor

New Delhi: Condemning the Italian Government`s stand that the marine accused of killing Indian fishermen off the Kerala Coast would not return to India, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor on Wednesday expressed serious concern over the matter and said that the people must be able to trust the sovereign word of a sovereign government.

"I think this is a very serious matter, I don`t know who this senator is except that she has the same last name as the marine, but if she is speaking for the Italian Government then I think we need to take very serious note of this issue," he said.

"The truth is that Italy has given solemn undertaking to the Government of India and the Supreme Court when they removed the gentleman from the medical treatment. To say that he can`t come back to India again even when his health is okay is simply unacceptable, it`s also violation of a solemn undertaking by a government to another government and to the government`s highest judicial authorities," he added.

Tharoor further said this matter should not be taken lightly `and will not be taken lightly.

"Secondly, we know that the Italians are attempting to shift the jurisdiction of this matter to the international law of the sea tribunal and get it adjudged elsewhere. But pending that, they cannot prejudge the outcome by simply refusing to return a charged person to the court that is trying to establish his guilt or innocence. So, this is a matter that the Indian Government must and should take seriously," he said.

Expressing solidarity with the people of Kerala, Tharoor said that not just the people of Kerala but the people of India will also take the matter seriously.

"We have to be able to trust the sovereign word of a sovereign government. You cannot have a situation where a government promises something to a court and then violates the undertaking and practice. So I urge the government of Italy to be sensible about this, to respect international law. When the person is back in health the person should be returned to face the process, without prejudice to Italy`s ongoing process to shift the venue to another court," he added.

Nicola Latorre, president of the Senate Defence Committee, yesterday said Massimiliano Latorre will not return to India, and furthermore, the possibility of asking for Salvatore Girone`s return is being explored.

Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has urged Prime Minister Modi to interfere and bring the culprits back to the country. India had granted Latorre, who suffered a stroke while in New Delhi in 2014, a period of leave in Italy for medical treatment, but he was supposed to return by Friday.

The two men say they accidentally killed two fishermen when they mistook a fishing boat for a pirate ship and fired warning shots while protecting an Italian oil tanker in 2012.

In a bid to tone down the diplomatic row, Italy reversed an initial decision in 2013 not to send the marines back to India to stand trial after a home visit.

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