Rome, Dec 22 IANS | 1 year ago

Italian President Giorgio Napolitano has voiced support for two Marines charged with murder in India and urged a "fair and rapid" trial for the duo.


"Italians are truly close to you, our brothers, who are facing the unknown outcome of a dramatic and tortuous affair," Napolitano said this week.

"We expect a fair and rapid trial, even if this may be hampered by imminent elections in India," Napolitano said in a video call to the Italian embassy in New Delhi, where the two Marines, currently on bail pending trial, are living and working.

Marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were arrested for the killing of two Indian fisherman off the coast of Kerala in February last year.

The Marines, who were on security duty aboard an oil tanker at the time of the incident, claim they merely fired warning shots into the sea in the direction of the fishermen's boat, believing they were pirates.

"The whole of the Italian government is fully behind you," the president said.

Italy disputes India's jurisdiction over the case, claiming the incident took place in international waters.

Earlier, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said Italian officials would continue to work "daily" to resolve the case.

"The daily commitment will continue until we obtain the results we are expecting," Letta told ambassadors to Italy during an address at the foreign ministry in Rome.

The case sparked a major diplomatic row between the two countries when Rome refused to return Latorre and Girone to New Delhi after they were allowed home to vote in national elections.

Amid escalating tension, Italy relented and sent the Marines back when it received assurances from India that the pair would not face the death penalty.

(Posted on 22-12-2013)