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Premier, ministers meet over marines case in India

Political leaders strategize over future of Italians in India

17 January, 11:19
Premier, ministers meet over marines case in India (ANSA) - Rome, January 17 - Prime Minister Enrico Letta was meeting Friday with Foreign Minister Emma Bonino and Mario Mauro, defence minister, over the case of two marines who may be facing a death sentence in India over the shooting deaths of two fishermen. Italy has appealed to the Indian Supreme Court amid fears that India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) intends to prosecute the pair under a 2002 anti-terrorism law, despite previous reassurances from the Indian government that the marines would not face the death penalty.

It's expected that that appeal, including a demand by Italy for the release of the two marines, will be reviewed on Monday. A delegation of Italian MPs also plans to travel to India to lend support to the case of the marines.

Earlier this week, Indian media reported that country's interior ministry is considering excluding the possibility of charging the two Italian marines under the anti-terrorism law that carries the death penalty. If the interior ministry rules out using the law, the NIA would effectively be taken off the case.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are accused of killing fishermen Valentine (aka Gelastine) and Ajesh Binki after allegedly mistaking them for pirates and opening fire on their fishing trawler while guarding the privately owned Italian-flagged oil-tanker MT Enrica Lexie off the coast of Kerala on February 15, 2012.

The Italian petition to the Indian Supreme Court said the pair should be released due to the long delays in their trial following their arrest almost two years ago.

It demanded Indian magistrates "immediately present charges without using the anti-terrorism law," and proposed "authorizing the marines to return to Italy to wait out the time (required) for Indian trial," judicial sources have said.

The petition also complained that it is unclear whether the investigation has been concluded, adding that charges have yet to be filed and the trial has not yet begun.