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EU calls on Italy, India to respect Vienna Convention

New Delhi says Italian ambassador lost immunity amid marines row

EU calls on Italy, India to respect Vienna Convention

Brussels, March 18 - The European Union on Monday called on Italy and India to honor the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations in the two countries' spat over two Italian marines wanted in India for killing two fishermen. "The Vienna Convention must be respected by both parties," said a spokesman for Catherine Ashton, EU foreign affairs representative. The international treaty was negotiated in 1961 and says the rights of diplomats are "inviolable" and they cannot be detained. On Monday, the Indian Supreme Court said Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini had "automatically lost" his diplomatic immunity when the Italian government refused to return anti-piracy marines Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone for trial after the ambassador signed a guarantee. The two men had been allowed to come home last month to vote in Italy's general election. Last week the Italian government announced that the marines will not return, sparking a furious reaction from New Delhi. Rome has always denied that India has jurisdiction over the matter, as the incident took place in international waters. Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said last week that the decision to not return the pair was legitimate and Italy had a strong case which it wanted to put to independent arbitration. An earlier deal, which allowed the marines to return to Italy for Christmas, was respected by both governments and was seen as a positive step - as well as a sign of goodwill - towards a diplomatic solution. On Monday the India Supreme Court adjourned Mancini's case until April 2 and said he was not to leave the country before then.

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