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UN human rights commissioner 'worried' about marines

Pillay concerned about length of time pair have been in India

03 March, 19:44
UN human rights commissioner 'worried' about marines (ANSA) - Geneva, March 3 - The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is "worried" about the case of two Italian marines who have been held in India for over two years, as yet without charge, for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen during an anti-piracy mission in 2012, spokesman Rupert Corville said Monday.

Italy is appealing to the UN to intervene in a case that it says should not be handled in India, as the incident took place outside Indian territorial waters.

Rome also says that, regardless of the jurisdiction issue, marines Massimiliano Girone and Salvatore Latorre should be allowed to return home and, if necessary, face justice in Italy, as they are servicemen who were on a mission for the State.

Corville said Pillay was "worried about the respect of human rights" given the length of time the pair have been kept in India, after the commissioner met Italian Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Benedetto Della Vedova in Geneva.

Latorre and Girone are accused of killing fishermen 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.

The two marines have been living and working at the Italian embassy in India pending charges.

The case has led to a major diplomatic row between the two countries and rallying of the European Union in Italy's support.

Rome has protested over a long series of delays, the latest when the Indian supreme court last month adjourned hearings for two weeks after prosecutors dropped a tough anti-piracy and anti-terrorism law that could have mandated the death penalty.

Although the anti-terrorism law has been dropped the case, it is currently still in the hands of India's anti-terrorism police pending a ruling.

Indian prosecutors say the pair might face up to 10 years in jail.

Italian media have speculated that international support for Italy could wane now India has dropped the anti-terror law - which had serious implications for the global anti-piracy fight.