Marines case dragging on too long: Italian president

Rome, April 21 (IANS/AKI) Italy’s President Sergio Mattarella on Thursday voiced solidarity with the Italian marines facing trial in India for the killing of two fishermen in 2012, saying the legal wrangle over the case is lasting “too long”.

“I want to express my personal closeness and that of Italy to Salvatore Girone, who is still far away, and to Massimiliano Latorre,” Mattarella told Italian military associations at the presidential palace in Rome.

“I confirm Italy’s commitment to the favourable resolution of this case, which has been dragging on for too long,” Mattarella said.

The shooting dead in February 2012 of the fishermen by Latorre and Girone off the southern state of Kerala as they guarded an Italian oil tanker sparked a diplomatic incident and the case has strained relations between the two countries.

In August last year, India’s Supreme Court has extended until April 30 the sick leave in Italy for Latorre, where he has been since he suffered a stroke in 2014. He had previously been detained in India since his and Girone’s arrest there in 2012.

Girone has not been allowed to leave India since his arrest and is staying at the Italian embassy in New Delhi.

A long series of delays, and fears that the marines could be executed if convicted of murder by an Indian court prompted Italy to take the case to international arbitration in June last year.

The Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea ruled in August that India had no jurisdiction in the case and referred it to the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

The Hague tribunal said in January that the arbitration verdict in the case would not come before August 2018.

Meanwhile, Italy wants the two marines to be allowed to remain in their home country until the verdict.

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