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Court bars Italian envoy from leaving country

India warns of 'consequences' if marines are not returned

Swati Deb, New Delhi

March 14, 2013

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India’s Supreme Court on Thursday temporarily barred the Italian ambassador from leaving the country following Rome’s refusal to send back two marines accused of murder to stand trial in Delhi.

The court headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir issued Daniele Mancini with a notice ordering him not to leave the country before March 18 and has sought a formal "reply" from him. The court also served separate notices to the two marines.

The court wanted to know the "grounds" by which Italy is now refusing to send back the two marines, a legal officer from the government side said.

Italy informed the Indian government on Monday that Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, “will not return to India on the expiration of the permission granted to them."

The marines were due to stand trial for the shooting and killing of two Indian fishermen while they were guarding an Italian oil tanker, the Enrica Lexie, in February last year off the coast of Kerala in southern India.

The marines say they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

India’s Supreme Court last month had allowed the two marines to return home for four weeks to vote in their country’s general election.

Mancini had assured the court that the pair would return after the specified period.

Italy's stand was "it's a breach of undertaking given to the highest court of the land," India’s attorney general G E Vahanvati said on Thursday.

Italy’s decision has sparked outrage in India. On Tuesday the Indian government summoned Mancini officially to protest against Rome's decision not to send the marines back.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday accused Italy of violating "every rule of diplomatic discourse" and called on Rome to send back the duo, failing which there will be "consequences" on bilateral ties.

Italy claims the two fishermen were killed in international waters therefore Indian courts have no jurisdiction over the case.

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