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Italy calls for 'functional immunity' for marines

Italian pair held in India accused of homicide

02 April, 17:25
Italy calls for 'functional immunity' for marines (ANSA) - Brussels, April 2 - Italy believes that ''functional immunity'' should be recognized as an important issue by the entire international community, Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini said on Wednesday in comments on the case of two Italian marines being held India for alledegly killing two fishermen during an anti-piracy mission in 2012.

Functional immunity protects State officials from the jurisdiction of other States as they perform actions while on duty.

Rome is seeking international arbitration in the case, arguing it is not under Indian jurisdiction as the incident occurred outside the country's territorial waters, and says the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India because they are servicemen who were working on a mission.

''It is important to actually recognize that functional immunity is important for everybody'', Mogherini said, stressing that NATO has already acknowledged this and continues to recognize such an issue.

Marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who are accused of killing the two fishermen after allegedly mistaking them for pirates, ''were not in India for private reasons but were on duty''.

''The recognition of such a dimension is extremely important'', stressed Mogherini.

Italy has long attempted to win international support in the case of the two marines who were guarding the privately-owned Italian-flagged oil-tanker MT Erica Lexie off the coast of the southern Indian state of Kerala in February 2012 when the incident occurred.

In February, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said their case could have ''negative implications'' for the fight against piracy and could not be treated as a bilateral issue.

Rome has won the backing of the European Union in the case and is seeking to get the United Nations involved.