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Trial for marines in India hits new snag

Napolitano says Indian elections interfering with fast trial

20 December, 16:40
Trial for marines in India hits new snag (ANSA) - Rome, December 20 - Italian President Giorgio Napolitano on Friday said the legal proceedings for two Italian marines held in India over the deaths of two fishermen has hit a new snag due to Indian elections.

"Sometimes it seems that we are the only nation where elections can create problems. (But) they also create trouble in India," Napolitano told marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone through a long-distance video conference. "A (fast-track) trial had been proposed to us, a proper and swift trial which has now encountered difficulty because we are near the Indian elections," the president added. He also tried to comfort the pair, telling them that the entire country is with them.

The investigation of the two Italian marines stalled in recent months over testimony from four witnesses - fellow Italian marines thought to have seen what happened the night when two of their comrades allegedly killed the two Indian fishermen.

Indian authorities wanted to question the four in India; however, Italy had said that was unnecessary because Indian investigators could come to Italy or question the four by video conference.

The problem was overcome in November, when Indian investigators interrogated the witnesses via video conference in the Indian embassy in Rome.

The marines are accused of killing the fishermen on February 15, 2012, when the marines allegedly opened fire on their fishing trawler from privately-owned Italian-flagged oil-tanker MT Enrica Lexie.

The shooting occurred just off the coast of Kerala in southern India, near traditional Indian fishing grounds in the Laccadive Sea.

The incident sparked a diplomatic row between the governments of India and Italy, stemming from a conflict of opinions over legal jurisdiction and functional immunity.