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Italy petitions UN to help free marines in India

'We are willing to try them at home' says interior minister

17 March, 15:52
Italy petitions UN to help free marines in India (ANSA) - New York, March 17 - The Italian interior minister on Monday appealed to the United Nations to help free two Italian marines from India as they await charges for allegedly killing two fisherman on an anti-piracy mission two years ago. "Italy is willing to try the marines at home, but in the meantime we ask for their freedom," said Angelino Alfano shortly before a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York. Lately Italy has been trying to rally international support among the EU, the US and NATO to bring home Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who have been held in India without charges since February 2012, after they allegedly opened fire on a fishing trawler they mistook for a pirate vessel. The ongoing case has seriously strained Indian-Italian relations, especially before prosecutors ruled out the death penalty as a possible sentence earlier this year. They now face up to 10 years in prison, prosecutors say. Italy argues that the case sets dangerous and wide-ranging precedents for any country involved in anti-piracy missions overseas. The incident occurred while the marines while guarding the privately owned Italian-flagged oil-tanker MT Enrica Lexie off the coast of the southern Indian state of Kerala in February 2012.

The two marines have been living and working at the Italian embassy in India amid a long series of delays in the case.