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Italy says 'has U.S. backing' in marines row with India

'Susan Rice says country at our side'

22 January, 17:44
Italy says 'has U.S. backing' in marines row with India (see related) (ANSA) - Rome, January 22 - Italy has the "full backing" of the United States in the case of two Italian marines possibly facing the death penalty in India for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen, Italy's defence undersecretary said Wednesday.

Speaking at the 70th anniversary of the Allied landings at Anzio south of Rome, Gioacchino Alfano said that "the United States, speaking through US National Security Advisor Susan Rice, has declared it's at our side, hoping for a speedy solution of the now long-standing affair". Marines 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. Italy has appealed to the Indian Supreme Court amid fears that India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) intends to prosecute the pair under the anti-terrorism law, despite previous reassurances from the Indian foreign ministry that the marines would not face capital punishment.

In addition to the US, the European Union has also voiced support for Italy's drive to avoid applying the death penalty. On Monday a vice-president of the European Council threatened India with economic consequences if India did not rule out the death penalty.