Shooting row: Italy says satisfied with progress, minister on way

Syndicated from IANS | Published on Fri, Feb 24 2012 18:30 IST | 154 Views | Add comment
New Delhi, Feb 24

A day after a Kerala court extended police custody of two Italian marines accused of shooting two Indian fishermen, Indian and Italian officials held another round of talks here with Rome expressing satisfaction at the progress, setting the stage for the visit of the Italian foreign minister to New Delhi Tuesday.

"I wanted to thank the Indian authority for their hospitality and briefed them about the meeting with the (Kerala) CM (Chief Minister Oommen Chandy). I also thanked Indian lawyers who are working on the defence side. Allowing Italian forensic experts is a good sign," Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura said after the talks here Friday.

"We are very much concerned about the militaries of both the countries. Finally we are expecting the Italian Foreign Minister to come on Tuesday. We hope the incident is behind us and the relationship between the country remains the same," he added.

India's external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said: "Italian minister expressed satisfaction on the progress in Kerala. The Italian foreign minister will arrive on Tuesday for further discussion."

The spokesperson reiterated that the law of the land will take its course in dealing with the two Italian marines, indicating that the fundamental positions of New Delhi and Rome have not changed since the Feb 15 shooting of the two fishermen by two Italian naval guards who mistook them for pirates.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi will be in New Delhi Tuesday for talks with his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna during which he is expected to push for an early resolution of the row that threatens to cast a shadow over bilateral ties.

Italy has offered to cooperate in the investigation, but said the weapons of the two arrested marines should be examined in their presence and stressed that the vessel was in international waters.

The Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Kerala police is expected to carry out, in the presence of ballistic experts from that country, a search Saturday of the Italian ship Enrica Lexie for the weapons, allegedly used by the Italian Marines in the killing of two Indian fishermen.

A court in Kollam Thursday had extended the police custody of Marines Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone after police told the judge they needed more time to interrogate them. The next hearing will be Feb 28.

Italy has maintained that the firing incident took place in international waters and should be tried according to international law. New Delhi has said that since the incident involved an attack on an Indian vessel, the accused should be tried under the Indian Penal Code.

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