ucanews.com reporter, New Delhi
Updated: March 18, 2014 10:54 PM GMT
Italy is appealing for UN help to free two marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen in 2012.
Italy’s Interior Minister Angelino Alfano met with UN General Assembly President John Ashe on Monday seeking the release of the two marines, currently being held in the Italian embassy in New Delhi awaiting trial.
Ashe, beginning a four-day visit to India on Wednesday, promised to discuss the marines’ case with Indian officials, Indian media reported.
A national fishermen forum in India said the Italian government was exerting diplomatic pressure to allow the marines to escape justice.
“Italy is trying to save the marines from Indian law. India should protest against Italy and resist the move,” T. Peter, secretary of the National Fishworkers Forum, told ucanews.com.
During his India visit, Ashe is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.
An official with India’s External Affairs Ministry told ucanews.com that India would respond to this latest development only if the United Nations addresses the issue with the Indian government.
“Italy can meet anyone and seek their intervention in the case. We will respond only after any international agency raises the issue with us. It’s too early to respond to the issue,” the official said.
The two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, shot and killed two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast in southern India in February 2012 while guarding the Italian oil tanker Enrica Lexie. The marines said they mistook the fishermen for pirates.
The issue has set off a diplomatic row between the two nations. India has insisted on trying the Italians in India stressing that the victims were Indians on board an Indian fishing boat. Italy said the marines should be tried in Italy since the incident took place in international waters.
The marines face 10-year prison terms if found guilty. India agreed last month not to charge the men under an anti-terrorism law, which carries the death penalty.