India thanks Italy for respecting pact in marines case

FM Khurshid voices gratitude to soldiers, Italian govt

India thanks Italy for respecting pact in marines case

Kochi, January 8 - India's foreign minister on Tuesday thanked Italy for keeping its promises over two Italian marines on trial for alleged murder. ''My thanks go to the two soldiers and the Italian government for respecting the deal,'' Salman Khurshid told ANSA from Kochi in the southern Indian state of Kerala where Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are facing trial for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen during an anti-piracy mission last February. ''This strengthens faith in our system and in Italy's,'' he added. In December the Kerala high court court granted the soldiers a two-week permit to spend Christmas with their families in southern Italy following reasurances by the Italian government that they would then return to India to face justice. "It is an unusual decision that was taken by the judges in consideration of the sensitivites" concerning the religious holidays, said the Indian foreign minister. Latorre and Girone have been at the centre of a diplomatic row between the two countries with Italy claiming it should have jurisdiction over the case as the alleged killing took place aboard an Italian merchant ship that the marines were guarding. Rome also argues that the marines should be exempt from prosecution in India as they were military personnel working on an anti-piracy mission. India's Supreme Court has repeatedly put off giving a verdict on the case's jurisdiction and last month Indian authorities said it would be at least another three months before a ruling was handed down. Rome prosecutors have opened an investigation into the case in which Latorre and Girone are being probed for manslaughter.

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