Rome mayor rejects interference in Colosseum marines demo

Alemanno defends stage, says solidarity protest to go ahead

Rome mayor rejects interference in Colosseum marines demo

Rome, April 3 - Rome mayor Gianni Alemanno on Wednesday rejected calls by cultural authorities to remove a stage erected next to the Colosseum for a demonstration to be held later in the day in support of two Italian marines facing trial in India on homicide charges. "This evening we have to demonstrate at the Colosseum, by turning off the lights, to show our solidarity with our marines," Alemanno said. "With all due respect for the culture ministry, we are going ahead and we don't want to listen to nonsense," he continued. Earlier in the day the local culture superintendent's office asked the city council to remove the stage on grounds that it was "unauthorised" and "in contrast with safety agreements" regarding the outside of the iconic monument, which is showing increasing wear and tear after being built by emperors of the Flavian dynasty nearly 2,000 years ago. The cultural authorities added that plans to project images on the facade of the Colosseum and turn off lights inside the monument and in the nearby Roman Forum had also not been authorised. Servicemen Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are on trial in India for the alleged shooting murder of two Indian fishermen during an anti-piracy mission off the Kerala coast in February 2012. The case has strained diplomatic relations between India and Italy, which insists that New Delhi does not have jurisdiction as the incident took place in international waters. Tensions deepened in last month when Rome said it would not be returning the soldiers for trial on the expiry of a four-week parole permit to vote in general elections at the end of February. The government subsequently backed down over the decision. This is the second time Rome city council has organised a demonstration in support of the marines.

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