Rome recalls ambassador from India in piracy spat

ROME Fri May 18, 2012 9:46pm IST

Indian police personnel walk down from the Napoli-registered Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie, which is anchored at outer sea, as the ship prepares to sail out from Kochi May 5, 2012. REUTERS/Sivaram V

Indian police personnel walk down from the Napoli-registered Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie, which is anchored at outer sea, as the ship prepares to sail out from Kochi May 5, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Sivaram V

Related Topics

Polluted waters of China

Polluted waters of China

Growing cities, overuse of fertilizers, and factory wastewater have degraded China's water supplies to the extent that half the nation's rivers and lakes are severely polluted.  Slideshow 

ROME (Reuters) - Italy recalled its ambassador from New Delhi on Friday after two Italian members of an anti-piracy unit were charged with the murder of two Indian fishermen in an escalation of an increasingly tense diplomatic dispute.

The Italian marines, who were members of a security detachment protecting the merchant vessel Enrica Lexie, have been held in Kerala since being arrested by local authorities in February.

Italy's foreign ministry said it was recalling its ambassador for consultations "in light of the situation in Kerala and the charges against the two Italian servicemen Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone".

Latorre and Girone were stationed on a merchant ship off the southern Indian coast tasked with protecting it from pirate attacks. They fired warning shots at a fishing boat on February 15, believing it to be a pirate vessel, they said.

A spokesman for India's foreign ministry said the fact that Italy had recalled its ambassador did not indicate relations had soured.

"Calling back for consultation is not unusual and they have not told us it is anything unusual. Our understanding is that it is for consultation, not for recall," said the spokesman, who asked not to be named.

One of the murder charges carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, but another can be punished by death, though the central government would have to approve that. India has not used the death penalty for several years, the state's deputy public prosecutor K.O. Raju told Reuters.

The marines will appear in court on May 25, when a charge sheet will be presented to them, and the trial could begin shortly afterwards, Raju said.

The Enrica Lexie entered the Indian port of Kochi on February 20 after the authorities asked its crew to help identify some suspected pirates.

The marines were then arrested by some 30 armed Indian officials in what the Italian foreign minister said was "subterfuge by the local police".

India has ignored Italy's protests that jurisdiction over the marines should lie with Rome because the incident occurred in international waters.

Speaking on Indian television, Italy's Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura said on Friday that the Indian legal process was taking too long and vowed to take the case to the Supreme Court if the verdict in Kerala went against the marines.

He made no mention of the ambassador being recalled.

(Reporting by Gavin Jones and James Mackenzie; Additional reporting by D. Jose in Thiruvananthapuram and Frank Jack Daniel in New Delhi; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Top News

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Kerry's India Visit

Kerry's India Visit

Kerry presses India on WTO deal ahead of arrival  Full Article 

Big Infra Deal

Big Infra Deal

Piramal, Dutch APG tie up for $1 bln infra investment  Full Article 

E-Commerce

E-Commerce

Amazon says to invest $2 billion more in India   Full Article 

Lupin Results

Lupin Results

Q1 net profit up 56 percent on higher U.S. drug sales   Full Article 

Twitter Results

Twitter Results

Twitter assuages growth concerns for now as shares soar 35 percent  Full Article 

Auto Sector

Auto Sector

VW closes in on Toyota as global auto leader  Full Article 

Fed Meeting

Fed Meeting

Fed seen trimming bond buys, could offer vague rate clues  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage