Rome: In a blow to Italy’s attempt to internationalise the case of two Italian marines being tried in India for killing two fishermen, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked Rome to resolve the issue bilaterally.
“It’s better for the question to be addressed bilaterally, rather than with the involvement of the UN,” Ban was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA, sparking fury in Italy.
His comments came a day after Italy petitioned the UN over the trial of the marines under a strict anti-piracy law and vowed to exercise “all options” to bring back its personnel.
Foreign Minister Emma Bonino told Italian parliament that she felt “great bitterness and perplexity” that Ban said the case was a “bilateral” issue.
She, however, added that Ban “guaranteed me comprehension and assured he would subsequently take action with the Indian authorities” over the case.
Marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone shot dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012, sparking diplomatic tensions between India and Italy.
Indian authorities have given their nod to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the matter, to prosecute the marines under the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against Safety of Maritime Navigation And Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act (SUA). The SUA carries death penalty.
India last week removed the possibility of a death penalty but insisted that the marines would still be prosecuted under the anti-piracy law. Now, they face up to 10 years in jail.
Italy said use of the terror law equates it with being a terrorist state.
Defence Minister Mario Mauro, meanwhile, said the case must also be won within the UN and acknowledged it as a global issue.
“On the case of the marines, the government has set clear two actions: one is the internationalisation of the case, so the tug of war with the UN must be won for this,” Mauro said.
“One can’t think it is a matter only between Italy and India, for one simple reason. It deals with two soldiers on a national mission, but which responds to a global society need, which is to put a stop to piracy and terrorism”.