Brussels

EU refuses to comment on Italy-India marines dispute

Italian ambassador remains under travel ban

EU refuses to comment on Italy-India marines dispute

Brussels, March 15 - European Union officials on Friday refused to be drawn on the dispute between India and Italy over Rome's decision not to return two marines for trial on murder charges, saying only "no comment". Spokesmen for High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton also declined to discuss what was said to the EU's ambassador to New Delhi, Joao Cravino, who was summoned to the Indian foreign ministry Thursday. On Thursday India's Supreme Court slapped a travel ban on Italian ambassador to New Delhi, Daniele Mancini, until March 19 after Rome said it would not return Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone for trial following the expiry of a four-week permit issued to the pair to allow them to return home to take part in February's elections. The marines face charges of homicide in India after allegedly shooting and killing two Indian fisherman during an anti-piracy mission in February 2012. The Italian government has always denied that India has jurisdiction over the matter, as the incident took place in international waters off the Kerala coast. In its letter to the Italian ambassador, the Indian Supreme Court said Mancini "violated" a "sworn declaration" presented on February 9 to the Indian government as "a guarantee of the marines' return". Along with the order to not leave the country, the Supreme Court ordered the ambassador to offer explanations for Italy's actions by March 18.

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