India Friday blasted the European Parliament for adopting a resolution calling for the repatriation of two Italian marines charged with killing two Indian fishermen. “The case involving the two Italian marines … is sub judice and is being discussed between India and Italy,” an external affairs ministry spokesperson said. He said the Indian Supreme Court Jan 14 granted three months extension to marine Massimiliano Latorre for staying in Italy on health grounds. The other marine, Salvatore Girone, lives in the Italian embassy in New Delhi.
“Under these circumstances, the European Parliament would have been well advised not to adopt the resolution,” he said. The Indian embassy in Brussels also issued a similar statement. The European Parliament Thursday hoped that the row between India and Italy over the prosecution of the marines accused of killing the fishermen in 2012 should be settled under “Italian jurisdiction or through international arbitration”.
The members called for the marines to be repatriated to Italy as their detention without charge was a “serious breach of human rights”, according to an European Parliament press release. In a resolution, the members expressed “great sadness” over the death of the Indian fishermen but voiced concern over the detention of the marines. “We have to ensure that the principles of international law are complied with and I think that the fate of the two marines will be linked to the credibility of our anti-piracy efforts,” said EU Foreign Affairs High Representative Federica Mogherini.
In February 2012, the two marines, on board an Italian commercial vessel, shot and killed the Indian fishermen after mistaking them for pirates. Italy said the incident took place in international waters and the marines should be tried in Italy or in an international court. India insists the incident occurred in Indian waters. The two marines face murder charges.
Disagreeing with the house, Neena Gill, British member of the European Parliament and vice chair of the parliamentary delegation for India, expressed her disappointment over the resolution. “I rise to express my disappointment about the way this matter has been addressed by this house. And I do have strong reservations about the resolution. “I do agree that we need to speed up developments to ensure legal certainty to all sides involved but my concern is the failure to address Indian issues will do just the opposite.
“At the heart of this case is the fundamental question about how we treat our partners. “While the EU has a duty to stand up for its citizens, it is hard to understand that the lives of Indian fishermen should be valued lower than the liberty of the two EU citizens,” said Gill. She called on Mogherini, a former Italian foreign minister, “to avoid further escalation of this case which is fundamentally a bilateral issue between Italy and India”.
Gill warned that “this would only hurt all sides involved including the marines and it could have far reaching consequences for our foreign policies at a time when the EU is struggling to kickstart relations with Delhi”. Mogherini said: “We fully share the concerns expressed by members of the European Parliament regarding these two European citizens. This case is being dragging over three years now, which is quite unacceptable.” (IANS)