Marines issue discussed during UN Chief’s visit to Italy

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File Photo.
The Italian marines facing charges of killing two Indian fishermen. File Photo.

United Nations, May 8 (PTI): The issue of the two Italian marines currently awaiting trial in India over the killing of two Indian fishermen came up during Ban Ki-Moon’s meetings with Italian officials in Rome, a spokesperson for the UN Chief said here.

“The issue (of the Italian marines) came up during the Secretary-General’s meetings with Italian officials,” in Rome yesterday, Vannina Maestracci, the Associate Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, told PTI.

The spokesperson, however, did not give any details as to what specific issues were raised by the Italian officials or the Secretary General’s response to them.

Ban was in Rome yesterday where he met Italian President Giorgio Napolitano. He also met President of the Council of Ministers Matteo Renzi as well as with President of the Senate Pietro Grasso.

The issue of the Italian marines continues to remain unresolved with Italy mulling international arbitration to settle the issue.

Italy has sent a note to India as it opens an “international procedure” that, unless the Indians cooperate, would inevitably lead to arbitration by an international body such as the UN, Mogherini had told the Senate last month.

The two Italian marines are awaiting trial over the killing of two Indian fishermen off Kerala coast in February 2012, sparking diplomatic tensions between India and Italy.

The marines, deployed on the Italian-flagged oil tanker MT Enrica Lexie, had contended they mistook the fishermen for pirates. They are now staying in the Italian Embassy in New Delhi awaiting trial.

Italy has requested that the marines be allowed to return home and the whole case be dropped.

Rome wants the marines to be tried in Italy, claiming the incident took place in international waters. However, New Delhi says it has the right to try the Italians as the victims were Indians on board an Indian fishing boat.

A special court has fixed July 31 for hearing the case of the two Italian marines.

During his meetings in Rome, Ban discussed the situation in Ukraine and expressed hope that the European Union, the US, Russia and Ukraine would soon sit down together again to de-escalate the situation and come up with a lasting solution.

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