New Delhi: Italy today said it was important to suspend the diplomatic assurance on sending back its marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen, as it needed to obtain assurances from India that the soldiers won't face death penalty.
Defending their initial decision not to send back their marines even at the cost of diplomatic breach of assurance, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Steffan de Mistura said death penalty was unacceptable and became an issue for the Italian government when the Supreme Court talked about setting up of a special court to try the soldiers.
He also said a special court should be established "as soon as possible" to try the marines stressing that Rome wanted "justice and clarity".
"During the bail, there was an indication that a special court would be established. That was the moment when the issue of death penalty became a crucial aspect in Italy," Mistura said here.
The Minister, who escorted the two marines back to India in a special military plane just in time before the expiry of the Supreme Court-set deadline, said "according to Italian law, death penalty is an extremely serious aspect... was unacceptable legislatively and culturally in Italy".
"The solution was triggered by a letter from Indian authorities which was a very comprehensive letter and official letter guranting to the Italian authorities that in this case there is no question that death penalty could even be envisaged and at the same time the marines upon their return will have the same status that they had on their departure," he said.
"That was enough for the Italian government to take away the suspension, painful it might have been of the affidavit," he said.
India gave an assurance to Italy that the marines will not face death penalty nor will they be arrested, bringing to an end a raging 11-day diplomatic row between the two countries.