Italy opens ‘new phase’ in marines case

Italy opens ‘new phase’ in marines case

14Rome, April 24 (IANS) Italy opened a new phase Thursday by replacing its special envoy Staffan de Mistura, handling the case of its two marines held in India, and sending its ambassador back to New Delhi to help steer the case towards arbitration.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were arrested for killing two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala in February 2012, mistaking their fishing boat for a pirate vessel. The two are currently on bail.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini told the Senate that Rome has sent a note to New Delhi as it opens an “international procedure” that unless the Indians cooperate it would inevitably lead to arbitration by an international body such as the UN, ANSA reported Thursday.

Rome has decided to send its ambassador to India, Daniele Mancini, back to New Delhi to mark the “fresh stage” in its efforts to have the two marines returned, Mogherini added.

A New Delhi court last month adjourned the hearing in the case to July 31 after it was told that the apex court has ordered that proceedings before the special court be kept in abeyance.

The Supreme Court had sought a response from the central government on the petition filed by the two marines challenging the jurisdiction of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to prosecute and probe the case.

Mancini will oversee the “new phase” of internationalising the case, Mogherini said.

While referring to the change in the special envoy to India, the minister said that new figures were required for taking the case to the international level.

“I want to thank de Mistura for the dedication and indefatigable commitment with which he has followed the affair,” she said.

“We need new figures, we are mapping out a panel of experts under the leadership of a coordinator to pursue the new phase. The prospect of international arbitration appeared inexorable,” the minister told the upper house.

“We are off the bilateral level, to raise the dispute to an international level: we are still willing to talk to the Indians but we have no other option than resorting to international arbitration,” she said.

According to the minister, the Italian government does not consider the Indian proceedings “valid”.

“We do not accept an (future) Indian trial whose validity we do not recognise,” she said.

Rome has also requested the pair be allowed to return home and the whole case be dropped.

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