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Letta says Italy raising awareness of marines' plight

Italians may be facing death penalty in India

31 January, 18:40
Letta says Italy raising awareness of marines' plight (see related) (ANSA) - Rome, January 31 - Premier Enrico Letta said Friday that Italy will continue to raise awareness among its international partners about the plight of two Italian marines who may face the death penalty in India.

Letta spoke after he heard from a delegation of Italian MPs who recently travelled to India to learn more about the situation of Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone who allegedly killed two Indian fishermen two years ago.

"We will continue our contacts with Italy's main European and international partners to raise awareness on an issue that sees the international community on the side of our two marines and their families," Letta said after the meeting.

The two marines are accused of killing fishermen Valentine (aka Gelastine) and Ajesh Binki after allegedly mistaking them for pirates while on an anti-piracy mission and opening fire on their fishing trawler. At the time, the marines were guarding the privately owned Italian-flagged oil-tanker MT Enrica Lexie off the coast of Kerala on February 15, 2012. On Thursday, a special court in India said it would await a ruling expected Monday from that country's Supreme Court on a reported move by India's National Investigation Agency (NIA) to prosecute the Italians under a harsh anti-terrorism law that bears the death penalty, despite previous reassurances from the Indian foreign ministry that the marines would not face capital punishment.

One of the Italian lawmakers who was part of delegation that traveled to New Delhi likened capital punishment to an act of war. "(If the punishment is approved, it will be) an attack on Italy," Fabrizio Cicchitto, chairman of the Lower House foreign affairs committee, said earlier this week during his visit to the Italian marines.