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Italian foreign minister calls marines detention 'illicit'

Italy pushes for return of anti-piracy marines from India

17 October, 14:42
Italian foreign minister calls marines detention 'illicit' (ANSA) - Milan, October 17 - Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi called India's continued detention of two Italian marines "illicit" and demanded their immediate return on Wednesday.

Terzi said the two anti-piracy marines "unduly and - from our point of view - illicitly held must return home quickly" from the sidelines of visit to a construction fair in Milan.

Terzi reiterated "the commitment that the entire government is showing, in fact, every day to resolve this incredible business," and underlined how "India must recognize Italian jurisdiction, and in doing so will show itself to be truly coherent with a line of action against piracy".

Terzi's comments turn up the heat in a diplomatic row over between Italy and India since the anti-piracy marines were arrested and jailed in February.

India's supreme court last month began to examine whether Italy should be granted jurisdiction over the case, and promised a decision within 20 days.

Last Thursday, Terzi declared he was "astounded and disconcerted" by the Indian justice system's dithering over the case. On Monday Terzi said the two marines "will come home".

The Italian government has stumped for its position that, regardless of who has jurisdiction, the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India as they were military personnel working on an anti-piracy mission.

Defense lawyer Harish Salve said the two were on board the Enrica Lexie vessel due to an Italian government decision based on a UN resolution to protect ships navigating pirate-infested waters.

Indian police filed charges against the two that include the murder of fishermen Jelestine Valentine and Ajesh Binki.

The Italian marines were granted bail in June, but were required to remain in Indian territory as their case wound its way through Indian courts.