Italy and India seemed headed for a standoff on Monday after the former declared that two of its naval guards who are being prosecuted for killing two Indian fishermen in Indian waters while on anti-piracy duty, will not return to face trial.
“Italy has informed the Indian government that, given the formal initiation of an international dispute between the two states, the naval guards Massimiliano Latorre andSalvatore Girone will not return to India at the end of their home leave,” said a news agency quoting the Italian foreign ministry.
“India has not responded to Italian requests to seek a diplomatic solution to the case and there is now a formal dispute between the two countries over the terms of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea,” the Italian foreign ministry further said, according to agencies.
When contacted, sources in the MEA said, “We received a communication from Italy late tonight. We will examine it carefully.”
The Supreme Court here on February 22 had allowed the duo to go to Italy to vote in elections, with the Italian government giving an undertaking in court that Latorre and Girone will return to India after the voting.
It was their second visit after the Kerala high court allowed them a two-week home stay during Christmas last year.
While giving leave to the marines to visit Italy, the apex court had, however, accused the Centre of “dragging its feet” over speedy trial of the two.
On January 18, the court had ruled that Kerala government had no jurisdiction to prosecute the marines and had directed the Union government to constitute a special court in consultation with the Chief Justice of India (CJI) for fresh trial.
With the Union government non-committal about initiating the consultation process to set up the special court, the bench focused on the marines’ application seeking to travel to Italy to cast their votes in the elections scheduled for February 24.