Napolitano 'honours' marines held in India - update

Head of State pays tribute to pair on Liberation Day

(ANSA) - Rome, April 25 - President Giorgio Napolitano said he "honoured" two Italian marines who have been "unjustly held" in India for over two years for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen during an anti-piracy mission while speaking at a ceremony for Liberation Day Friday. The head of State noted that the pair were being kept "far from their families and homeland".
    Napolitano's comments came a day after the Italian government announced it was opening a new phase in the saga of the two marines, replacing its special envoy on the case and sending its ambassador back to New Delhi to help steer the case towards arbitration. Defence Minister Federica Mogherini told the Senate Rome has sent a note to New Delhi as it opens an "international procedure" that, unless the Indians cooperate, would inevitably lead to arbitration by an international body such as the UN.
    Rome has decided to send its ambassador to India back to New Delhi to mark the "fresh stage" in its efforts to have Massimiliano Latoree and Salvatore Girone returned, Mogherini added. Daniele Mancini will oversee the "new phase" of internationalising the case, she said. Special envoy Staffan de Mistura has done his job and new figures are needed now that Rome is taking the case to the international level, Mogherini told the Senate. Rome does not consider the India proceedings, which have yet to lead to trial, "valid", she said. "We do not accept a (future) Indian trial whose validity we do not recognise," Mogherini said. Latorre and Girone are still awaiting trial over the deaths of Valentine (aka Gelastine) and Ajesh Binki, whom they allegedly mistook for pirates. Italy is currently appealing to India's top court against NIA anti-terrorism prosectors taking the case. Rome has also requested the pair be allowed to return home and the whole case be dropped.


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