Don't take India for granted: Sonia to Italy

Last Updated: Tue, Mar 19, 2013 10:13 hrs

New Delhi: Breaking her silence on the Italian marines issue, Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi sent out a strong message to Italy on Tuesday and said no country should take India 'for granted'.

Gandhi made the comments while addressing the meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) in New Delhi on Tuesday.

She said: "No country can, should, or will be allowed to take India for granted."

"All means must be pursued to ensure that the commitment made by the Italian government to our Supreme Court is honoured," she said.

The Supreme Court case on the Italian marines and the envoy of Italy who went back on his commitment to the apex court on ensuring the return of the two marines to India after their visit to Italy for voting was adjourned on Monday till the next hearing in April, even as the court chided him for betraying the trust of judiciary.

The case has been adjourned till April 2.

The court, however, continued to restrain the Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving India till further orders holding that he has no diplomatic immunity having gone back on his undertaking to the court and thus losing the trust.

The apex court said it would examine the immunity the ambassador enjoys but made it clear that it had not expected an envoy to behave in the manner that he did.

The Supreme Court is hearing the case of two Italian marines who are facing criminal trial here for shooting two fishermen in the high seas in Kerala last year, but who did not return from Italy during their last visit.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were allowed to go to Italy first for Christmas and then for voting under undertaking by the envoy that that they would return to face trial, but during their second visit they chose not to come back to India despite assuring to do so.

Meanwhile, as the diplomatic row between Italy and India intensified over Italy's decision to not send back its two marines, the Italian Government had asked its citizens, especially those in the southern states, to be "vigilant and cautious."

"In connection with any protests, especially in the state of Kerala... it is recommended to compatriots in maintaining an attitude always vigilant and cautious and stay away from any crowds," the Italian embassy advisory had said.

The marines were to return by March 22.

The Supreme Court on Feb 22 had allowed the two Italian marines to travel to Italy to cast their votes in the country's elections.

Accusing Indian authorities of violating international rights by detaining the marines, Italy's Foreign Ministry said it was “open” to let an international arbitrator to assess the case.

They said India had not responded to Italian requests to seek a diplomatic solution to the case and there was now a “dispute” between the two countries over the terms of the U.N. Convention of the Law of the Sea.

On Feb 15, 2012, the security officials of Italian cargo vessel Enrica Lexie allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen mistaking them as pirates in the high seas off Ambalapuzha in Kerala. They- Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone- were subsequently arrested.

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