Italian marines: UPA faces flak
New Delhi, Mar 12 : The ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government is under attack of opposition and other groups after it was known that the two Italian marines, who were accused of shooting to death two Indian fishermen in Kerala last year, will not return to India for trial after being permitted to go home to vote.
The development might trigger a diplomatic row between India and Italy while the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slammed the UPA and accused it of deliberately allowing the marines to flee.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said he would examine a letter from Italy regarding the matter and then decide his action.
"Let me look at the letter and we will respond then. It was a Supreme Court decision but it's also a matter of our countries' collective decision. We cannot throw the ball in their court. Let's see what they have to say and what's their reasoning, after all they came back the last time," Khurshid said, referring to the Italian government's decision to not send the marines to India for trial.
Reports said Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, who is under local pressure in Kerala, would meet Salman Khurshid on Tuesday over the issue. Chandy also reportedly wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue.
The opposition BJP said the government allowed the marines to flee.
"Why is the Indian government soft on Italians?"asked Balbir Punj of BJP.
He said the marines were being protected by the authorities.
Dora Valentine, wife of a dead fishermen, said she did not receive justice.
The Supreme Court on Feb 22 had allowed the two Italian marines, who were arrested for gunning down two Indian fishermen mistaking them as sea pirates in February last year, to travel to Italy to cast their votes in the country's elections.
Accusing Indian authorities of violating International rights by detaining the marines, Italy's Foreign Ministry said it was "open" to let an international arbitrator to assess the case.
They said India had not responded to Italian requests to seek a diplomatic solution to the case and there was now a "dispute" between the two countries over the terms of the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea.
"Italy has informed the Indian government that, given the formal initiation of an international dispute between the two states, the marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone will not return to India at the end of their home leave granted to them," it said in a note.
The decision was taken in consultation with Italy's Ministry of Defence and Justice in coordiation with the Italian Prime Minister's Office, the statement said.
The statement said that India's decision to hold trial of the marines in that country violated their rights under International law. Italy has argued that the marines should be tried in their home country.
The Italian government said it was open to arriving at a resolution of the dispute through international arbitration or judicial settlement.
India's Ministry of External affairs said that it has received a communication from Italy late Monday and it will "examine it carefully".
Allowing the plea of the two marines - Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone - and the Italian government to allow them to travel to Italy, a bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir last month said they would travel to Italy under the custody and control of the Ambassador of Italy in India.
The court had directed them to return to India after four weeks.
Earlier, in December, the accused marines were allowed to return home to celebrate Christmas.
They returned to India in January after celebrating Christmas with their families at home.
On Feb 15, 2012, security officials of the Italian cargo vessel Enrica Lexie allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen mistaking them as pirates in the high seas off Ambalapuzha in Kerala. They were subsequently arrested.