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Fury in Italy, after U.N.'s Ban says marines case bilateral

Committees demand work stopped on overseas-missions decree

12 February, 11:32
Fury in Italy, after U.N.'s Ban says marines case bilateral (ANSA) - Rome, February 12 - Italian politicians expressed fury on Wednesday after United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the case of two Italian marines facing terrorism charges in Indian for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen on an anti-piracy mission was a "bilateral issue".

Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino on Tuesday said Rome was appealing to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) after prosecutors in New Delhi requested the pair be charged under an anti-terror law.

"The High Commissioner for Human Rights has agreed to assess the petition," Bonino added.

The marines have been unable to leave India, apart from two leave permits, for two years.

Italy claims their human rights have been infringed and has won backing from the European Union, which has said the case threatens India's relations with the EU and the future of international anti-piracy missions.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone have been living and working at the Italian embassy in New Delhi pending charges for allegedly killing Valentine (aka Gelastine) and Ajesh Binki after allegedly 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.

Italy has said use of the terror law equates Italy with being a terrorist State.

But Ban dealt a blow to Rome's hopes of getting UN support late on Tuesday.

"It's better for the question to be addressed bilaterally, rather than with the involvement of the United Nations," Ban said.

His comments were seen as hand-washing by many in Italy and provoked an angry response.

The parliamentary defence and foreign affairs commissions requested Wednesday for the examination of a government decree on Italy's international missions to be suspended until Bonino reports to lawmakers on Ban's comments.

"The United Nations has once again confirmed its expensive uselessness with the secretary-general, a marginal, irrelevant figure on the world arena, refusing to make the kidnapping of our marines in India an international issue," said Maurizio Gasparri, a Senator for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia (FI) party. "Ban Ki-moon offends Italy by relegating the issue to the level of a dispute between our country and India, when we are faced with the arrogance of a pirate state with the respect to our soldiers".