Marines row: BJP pulls up govt for agreeing to Italy’s demands
Marines row: BJP pulls up govt for agreeing to Italy’s demands

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday lashed out at the Congress-led UPA Government for falling in line with the Italian Government’s demands that the marines charged with the murder of two Indian fishermen would not face death sentence or be arrested.

“As far as the marines issue is concerned, possibly the Italian Deputy Foreign Minister has spilled the beans and has said that they have been successful in extracting some commitments from the Indian Government and it will not be death and it will not be arrest,” said BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy.

“The question arises and the BJP would like to question this can the government pre-empt the wisdom of the court and can the law of the land by usurped unilaterally by the government. So, this is a big question, which the government must answer now,” he added.

Justifying the escalation of a standoff over the marines issue, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Stefan de Mistura yesterday said a potential diplomatic crisis has been avoided, and added that a special court should be established soon and the proceedings should be expedited.

“The solution was found and the solution was triggered by a letter from the Indian authorities, which was a very constructive letter, an official letter guaranteeing to the Italian authorities that in this case there is no question that death penalty could even be envisaged. And at the same time, the marines upon their return would have the same status as they had upon departure,” he said.

Mistura further said that the temporary standoff was necessary in order to buy time to obtain India’s guarantee and that the marines would be treated well.

“We flew overnight, we arrived in time, the two marines are here, they are in the Italian embassy, they will resume the status that they were having before and at the same time, we are starting again on this issue from where we were,” he said.

The two Italian marines facing murder charges in the shooting of two Indian fishermen off Kerala Coast last year reached the national capital this evening.

The latest development took place after the Italian Government reversed its decision, and said late on Thursday night that it would return the two marines facing murder charges in the shooting of two Indian fishermen.

Italy’s previous decision not to send the marines – Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone – to face trial in India triggered a diplomatic standoff.

The Supreme Court on Monday ordered Italy’s Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini not to leave the country till April 2, when the next hearing into the killing of two Kerala fishermen allegedly by two Italian marines is scheduled.

The apex court further indicated that all authorities should take appropriate steps on the order restraining the Italian envoy from leaving the country.

Mancini, meanwhile, told the apex court that he had complete immunity under the Vienna Convention.

The apex court said that it would not accept nor does it believe the ambassador’s statement, as he had lost trust of the court by going back on his word.

Asserting that there will be consequences if the Italian Government does not respect its commitment and return the two marines to India, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had earlier said that there can be no two opinions about the actions that have been taken by the Italian Government on the matter raised by the members.

“Our government has already made it clear that these actions of the Government of Italy are not acceptable. They violate every rule of diplomatic discourse and call into question solemn commitments given by accredited representatives of a sovereign government to our Supreme Court,” said Dr. Singh.

“Our government has therefore insisted that the Italian authorities respect the undertaking they have given to the honourable Supreme Court and return the two accused persons to stand trial in India. If they do not keep their word there will be consequences for our relations with Italy,” said Dr. Singh.

The two Italian marines, Salvatore Latorre and Massimiliano Girone, charged with homicide for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012 after mistaking them for pirates, were permitted by the Supreme Court to go to Italy for four weeks to vote in last month’s election

The two were allowed to go home during Christmas. They returned to India on the expiry of their leave.

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