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Italian marines 'not pirates, nor terrorists' says Bonino

Foreign minister tells parliament 'all options open' with India

11 February, 15:02
Italian marines 'not pirates, nor terrorists' says Bonino (ANSA) - Rome, February 11 - Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino reiterated her country's support Tuesday of two Italian marines facing charges in India of terrorism and piracy over alleged murder.

"Our marines are neither terrorists nor pirates. They carry out a role in the name of the Italian government," said Bonino before foreign and defence committees from parliament. "All options are open, from politics and diplomacy to legal channels. The goal is the dignified return of our marines". Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are in India awaiting charges for the murder of Valentine (aka Gelastine) and Ajesh Binki after opening fire on their fishing trawler while guarding the privately owned Italian-flagged oil-tanker MT Enrica Lexie off the coast of Kerala in February 2012.

A supreme court judge in New Delhi on Monday postponed a long-awaited ruling on whether to charge the pair under the 1988 anti-piracy and anti-terrorism Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Navigation, the SUA Convention. Invoking the law in India carries the death penalty, but prosecutors say they would not seek it.

Italy subsequently warned India it would appeal to the United Nations if prosecutors applied the harsh law, a move Italy argues would equate the country to a terrorist state. Diplomatic sources told ANSA there was also the likelihood that Rome might freeze a number of bilateral treaties being negotiated. "These are eventual roads, everything's on the table," said Bonino. She said she was sure of "international and European" support in resolving the case.

The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, said Monday the case "affects all of Europe", adding that India's application of an anti-terror treaty to the case was "unacceptable".