Marines: Italian foreign minister resigns

Last Updated: Tue, Mar 26, 2013 21:21 hrs

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi on Tuesday said that he was resigning from his post in protest over the return of two Italian marines to India to face a murder trial.

"I resign in contention with the decision to send the marines back to India. The misgivings I expressed had no effect on the decision taken," he told the Italian parliament.

"I am resigning because for 40 years I have maintained, and still maintain, that the reputation of the country, the armed forces and Italian diplomacy, should be safeguarded," he said.

"I am also standing down in solidarity with our two marines and their families," Terzi added.

The two Italian marines - Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone - facing trial in India for a high seas shooting that killed two Kerala fishermen returned to India from Italy on Friday evening amid assurance by the Indian government that they would not face death penalty.

They landed at Delhi airport on the last day of the Supreme Court´s deadline for their return, after high drama for days when the Italian government said they would not send back the marines who were allowed to go home for voting.

Ties between India and Italy had plunged following Rome´s unexpected move, prompting India´s Supreme Court to lash out at Italian Ambassador to New Delhi and forbid him from leaving the country.

The decision to finally return the marines to India had sparked anger in Italy since the men and their families had been previously told they would not be sent back.

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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