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Marines issue: Airport alert for Italian envoy

Friday March 15, 2013 11:31:46 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: In an unprecedented move, India Friday put airports across the country on alert to prevent Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving the country as per the apex court's orders. The government said there were no restrictions on his movements in the country and it had not violated any protocols of diplomacy.

The union home ministry sounded the alert at airports a day after the Supreme Court restrained Ambassador Mancini from leaving India without its permission.

The ambassador was issued notice in the wake of the Italian government going back on its undertaking to the court that two marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen would return after their four weeks' to face trial.

"The prime minister has said the marines not returning is unacceptable," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told CNN-IBN.

"In the world of diplomacy when such things happen you are agitated," he said, adding that "this story is not over yet".

Asked if there were restrictions on the envoy's movements, he denied, saying the ambassador is "absolutely free to move" in the country. "We only want to know what happened to the guarantee he has given to the court... That is not violation of the Vienna Convention."

He stated that India is bound by the Vienna Convention on diplomatic protocol. "We are bound by it and will not violate it. I don't think what the Supreme Court has said is violation of Vienna Convention."

The Supreme Court Feb 22 allowed the two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala, to fly to Italy to vote in the Feb 24-25 national election. The two marines were to return by March 23.

He said one should wait till Monday, the date the apex court has issued notice to the diplomat to give its answer.

Italy has not contacted India since March 12 when Mancini was summoned to South Block by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and conveyed New Delhi's disapproval.

Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati conveyed the court notices to the Italian authorities Friday, a source said.

In Thiruvananthapuram, Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor said that Ambassador Mancini's position will become untenable if the two Italian marines don't return to India.

He denounced the manner the two marines have behaved after leaving India.

"We have time till the 22nd of March to see if the two return. If they don't, then the Italian ambassador's position becomes untenable because it was he who has given the undertaking that the two will return," said Tharoor.

The two marines shot dead two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki and Gelastine, Feb 15 last year, allegedly mistaking them for pirates.

Last December, they were allowed to travel to Italy for Christmas, after which they returned ahead of schedule earlier this year. The apex court then ruled that they can be tried in Delhi.

Last month they got the Supreme Court's permission to go to Italy to vote in elections. This time, the Italian government refused to send them back, triggering a diplomatic row.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) sought a parliamentary debate on India's foreign policy.

"If India can be kicked around internationally, then there must be something seriously wrong with our foreign policy," BJP's Arun Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha.

He referred in this connection to snubs which he said had been delivered in recent times by the Maldives, Italy and Pakistan to India. Jaitley said there was a serious need to discuss the foreign policy.




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