Italy has summoned the Indian ambassador to urge that India’s Supreme Court reach a decision before the year-end Christmas holiday to settle a dispute over where two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen should be tried.
The sailors, members of a military security team protecting the cargo ship Enrica Lexie from pirate attacks, fired on the fishermen’s boat off the Indian coast in February. Italian officials say the men mistook the fishermen for pirates.
The marines have been detained in India and Italy has challenged India’s right to try them.
It has taken its case to the Supreme Court in New Delhi, saying the shooting took place in international waters, outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts.
Indian authorities accuse the sailors of killing unarmed fishermen in a ‘contiguous zone’ where Indian law applies.
In a statement late on Thursday, Italy’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the ambassador to express its ‘profound surprise and concern’ that the Indian Supreme Court had not ruled on the case three months after arguments ended.
The case has soured relations between Italy and India, with Rome insisting that Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone should be tried at home.
The two Italian marines, currently on bail here in connection with the killing of two Indian fishermen in February, submitted a petition Friday asking that they be allowed to go home for Christmas.
Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, who were granted bail on May 30, have sought a relaxation in their bail conditions that specify that that they have to submit their travel documents and not leave the Kochi police commissioner’s jurisdiction.
They are allowed to travel to Kollam where their case is being heard.
In their petition to the high court, they asked for permission to go home to be with their families for Christmas.
The court is likely to take up the petition Monday.
Police had earlier told the court that it would oppose any relaxation in the bail conditions because there was no guarantee they would return.
Massimillano and Girone, who are staying in a hotel here, were allegedly involved in the killing of two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki and Gelastine, on Feb 15. They were allegedly mistaken as pirates and shot dead off Alappuzha by the marines, who were serving as the security crew aboard the Italian cargo vessel Enrica Lexie.