New Delhi

India marine court, probe reports 'not official'

New ambassador to Rome in place by end of month

India marine court, probe reports 'not official'

New Delhi, April 3 - India on Wednesday said there was "nothing official" in reports about a special court for two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen or the investigating body. There has been conflicting news about a new probe by the Indian secret service and the powers of the court. On Monday, reports said the case had been reassigned from local authorities to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which was set up after the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai to combat national-security threats. Italian officials are closely watching developments in the case, which surrounds Italian anti-pirate marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who are in India on charges of shooting and killing fishermen Jelestine Valentine and Ajesh Binki after allegedly mistaking them for pirates while guarding a mercantile ship off the Kerala coast in February 2012. The complex case has reached the highest political levels, has led to the resignation of Italy's foreign minister, and caused a diplomatic rift between the two countries over the fate of the marines. But diplomatic tempers seem to have cooled after Italy last month decided to send the marines back to India following a four-week parole. On Wednesday a spokesman from the Indian foreign ministry called the case "one of a kind" and "obviously very delicate". "We know quite well that the (Indian) Supreme Court expects us to quickly put together a special tribunal. We are working on it, and we will be ready for the next hearing scheduled April 16," said Syed Akbaruddin. He also added that the new Indian ambassador to Italy, Ranjit Gupta, is scheduled to be instated "by the end of the month". Gupta was supposed to assume the post in January, but the government opted to suspend the transition amid tensions over the case of the Italian marines. Last month, Italy's ambassador to India was slapped with a travel ban after Rome opted to keep the marines from returning to New Delhi for trial. That ban was lifted Tuesday following the marines' return. "We were reevaluating bilateral relations (at the time)," said Akbaruddin. "But now that phase has passed".

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