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Italy regrets fishermen killing, row persists

Wednesday February 22, 2012 10:50:18 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: India and Italy Wednesday failed to resolve their row over the killing of two Indian fishermen, with Rome regretting the deaths but insisting they took place in international waters. New Delhi made it clear that the two arrested Italian Marines will face Indian law.

After meeting Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura voiced "terrible sadness" over the Feb 15 killing of the fishermen off Kerala.

"We do acknowledge and recognize that two Indian fishermen died. No one doubts it, and it is terribly sad," de Mistura told reporters here. He is set to visit Kerala where the Marines are in custody.

The meeting came three days after talks between Indian and Italian officials failed to break the impasse.

Salvatore Girone and Latorre Massimillano, the Italian Marines on board the Italian ship who fired at the fishermen mistaking them to be pirates, have been charged with murder.

De Mistura said the killings happened in international waters "and investigation will ascertain the exact position" of the Italian merchant ship, Enrica Lexie,

"We are definitely expressing terrible sadness and regret over the loss of lives. Two Indian fishermen did die and they belonged to poor families," he added.

Kaur said after the talks that there was no agreement between the two sides. "(We) will certainly go by our law. As far as law is (concerned), they have their interpretation and we have (ours)."

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi is to visit India for further talks.

Italy says the incident took place in international waters and the Marines cannot be tried in Indian courts. New Delhi contests both the claims.

Kaur said the Italian Marines "are on Indian soil" and "we have taken note of what (de Mistura) said".

The Italian ship is now berthed in Kochi. The marines were arrested Sunday.

Italy says the presence of armed naval personnel on board a merchant ship flying the Italian flag is ruled by a specific Italian law in keeping with UN resolutions regarding the war on piracy.

A Kerala court has issued a warrant to search the Italian ship to seize the gun that killed the Indians.

Italian authorities are probing why its merchant ship ignored the Italian Navy's objections and docked in Kerala leading to the arrest of the Marines.

The navy had reportedly objected to Enrica Lexie moving into Indian waters and the disembarkation of its military personnel on board, reported the Corriere della Sera, a news website.









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