Italy hopeful of winning Girone return

Arbitration tribunal to decide in a month

(ANSA) - The Hague, March 29 - There are the necessary conditions for a tribunal in the Hague to grant Italy's request for the return from India of marine Salvatore Girone, Ambassador Francesco Azzarello, Italy's representative to the international arbitration tribunal, said Tuesday. Girone is one of two Italian marines accused by India of killing two Indian fishermen during an anti-piracy mission in 2012.
    The other, Massimiliano Latorre, is back in Italy after having a stroke in 2014.
    "Italy is convinced that there are both the legal and humanitarian conditions for the arbitration tribunal to consider in a positive way the possibility of enabling marine Salvatore Girone to return," Azzarello told ANSA. The Hague tribunal will start examining "provisional measures" on Wednesday without going into the nitty gritty of a case that has strained diplomatic relations between Italy and India for five years. Italy will present its arguments to support its request for Girone's return on Wednesday morning, while the India will have its say in the afternoon. On Thursday morning Italy will have the chance to reply to the arguments presented by India, which, in turn, will respond again in the afternoon.
    The tribunal will announce its decision in about a month, sources said.
    The case of the two Italian marines will be among the issues addressed at Wednesday's EU-India summit in Brussels, ANSA sources said Tuesday. The meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker will also discuss the case of six British security guards and 14 Estonian nationals who have been handed jail terms by India for illegal possession of arms on a ship. The Italian government has taken the marines case to international arbitration after repeated delays in the handling of the case in India. However, the final ruling from the arbitration is not due before August 2018. The marines case will be among the issues mentioned in the conclusions of the summit, EU sources said. The sources said the marines issue was "the most difficult to prepare" in the run-up to the summit, adding that the EU "shares Italy's concerns".
    They also said that Modi's government is "aware that this issue weighs on the development of relations with the EU". At the summit, the Indian government and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are set to sign an agreement for a 450 million euros loan for the construction of the Lucknow metro.
    Rome argues the case is not in India's jurisdiction as the incident took place outside the country's territorial waters.
    It also says the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India, because they are servicemen who were working on an anti-piracy mission.