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Diplomatic row deepens over marines

Italy seeks diplomatic immunity as court orders pair remanded in custody reporter, Kochi

February 21, 2012

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Two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen were remanded in custody for a fortnight yesterday adding fuel to a growing diplomatic row. A magistrate in Kerala’s Kollam district also allowed police three more days to question marines Latorre Massimillaino and Salvatore Girone. Italy has sought diplomatic immunity for the pair who allegedly shot dead Ajesh Binki, 25 and Jalastein, 45, on February 15, while guarding the Enrica Lexie oil tanker. The Italian government is putting pressure on India to release the accused marines on bail, claiming the incident took place in international waters. “Italians want the prosecution and investigation done according to UN rules and not per Indian laws. But we maintain the killings happened within Indian waters. Now only the court will have the final word,” said P Chandrasekhran, additional director general of police. According to an Italian Foreign Ministry press release, the presence of armed guards on board the ship was permissible under Italian law and in line with UN resolutions. Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi reportedly said there are "considerable differences" with India over the killing of the fishermen. A police official in Kollam said the arrested marines will be questioned at a makeshift prison at the Central Industrial Security Force’s guest house. He said the marines are being well treated. “We don’t want the incident to affect our diplomatic ties with Italy.”
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