Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fishermen Killing Row

India PM warns Italy of consequences

India PM warns Italy of consequences

India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh yesterday warned Italy that there would be “consequences” unless it returned two of its marines who skipped bail while on trial in New Delhi for murder.
Reflecting growing anger in India, the normally mild-mannered Singh told MPs it was “unacceptable” that both men had remained in Italy after being allowed home to vote in elections last month.
Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are accused of shooting dead two fishermen off India’s southwestern coast in February last year, when their fishing boat sailed close to the Italian oil tanker they were guarding.
“This cannot by any standards be in the interests of any bilateral relationship that has to function on the basis of trust,” said the premier, whose government is under intense pressure to take action against Italy.
“If they do not keep their word, there will be consequences for our relations with Italy.”
Singh’s comments come after Italy’s ambassador, Daniele Mancini, was summoned to the foreign ministry on Tuesday where India’s Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai demanded Rome immediately hand over the marines.
Reports in newspapers including the Times of India and the Indian Express have said that Mancini could now be expelled after he gave his personal assurance in the Supreme Court that the two men would return.
The marines said they mistook the fishermen near the port of Kochi in Kerala for pirates. They were granted leave by India’s top court to return home for four weeks in order to vote in the February 24-25 polls.
But the Italian foreign ministry announced Monday that the pair would not return to India once their leave expires in view of a “formal international controversy” between the two countries.