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Marines' ship was lured into Indian waters: Italian minister

Source : IANS
Last Updated: Sat, Mar 23, 2013 23:00 hrs

New Delhi, March 23 (IANS) Hoping for a quick solution to the issue of the marines, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Steffan De Mistura blamed the Kerala Police for luring their ship into Indian waters.

To buttress his point, De Mistura referred to a statement of a senior Kerala Police.

Responding to a question from Karan Thapar on his programme "Devil's Advocate" on CNN-IBN whether he could confirm the captain of the Italian tanker on which the marines were deployed was lured or brought back on some form of deception, he said: "I can tell you what I know rather than confirming because I hope the Indian side would discover that.

"Point number one is what you said is correct. He was there (in international waters). Point number two he didn't return inside the national waters because he was never in national waters. But I will quote instead, I think, a senior official of the Kerala Police, who actually very proudly said, 'We lured him in'."

He reiterated his charge that ship with the two marines were "lured" by the Kerala Police.

"Yes, he said so. I am quoting an Indian policeman from Kerala," De Mistura emphasized.

Asked if this issue ends with the marines being tried and sentenced or will there be another crisis, the minister said: "I can only tell you one thing. We have to find a quick formula, solution for this issue because the two countries deserve definitely more than simply having a crisis... and frankly very sad to know that two Indians, whatever happened, died."

Holding that they respected India's Supreme Court, De Mistura said that they favoured holding the trial of two marines in their country.

He said that the breakthrough in the standoff on the return of two marines was resolved after India assured that two marines, if convicted, would not be awarded a death sentence. He said that marines were sent back after a written assurance by India.

Saying that like India, Italy too wanted a quick solution of the issue, the Italian minister denied that his country buckled under any pressure on the issue of return of two marines.

Holding that every one made a lot of mistakes, De Mistura said that the undertaking by Ambassador Daniele Mancini to the apex court was put under suspension because there was a fear of capital punishment in Italy and consequently "strong emotions".

"Strong emotions in Italy provoked suspension of affidavit," he said.

The marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, posted aboard oil tanker MV Enrica Lexie on security duty, had Feb 15, 2012, opened fire at a fishing boat off the coast of Kerala, suspecting that the boat carried pirates.

Two fishermen, Ajesh Binki and Gelastine, were killed in the firing.

A row had risen after Italy announced that the two marines, who were allowed to go home to vote, would not return to Indi for the trial. After hectic diplomatic parleys, the marines eventually returned Friday.



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