Italian PM speaks to Manmohan over marines issue

New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appreciated the

Italian government’s decision to return the two marines to India when Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti called him up Tuesday evening.

The call comes a day after Home Secretary R.K. Singh said India will honour the assurance given to Italy that the two of its marines who had allegedly killed two fishermen off Kerala coast last year will not face death penalty.

The home ministry handed over the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has filed a first information report (FIR) before the designated special NIA court.

Monti called up Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday evening during which the issue of the two marines — Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone – was discussed.

The prime minister “appreciated the Italian government’s decision to return the marines to India in line with the commitments that had been made before the Supreme Court of India and in order to enable the judicial process to move forward,” said official sources.

The prime minister “also recalled the recent conversation between the external affairs minister and the Deputy Foreign Minister of Italy Staffan de Mistura and mentioned that the process of setting up a special court is at a fairly advanced stage and the Attorney General would provide further details in this regard during the hearing in the

Supreme Court on April 16″, the sources said.

“The Prime Minister also said that in view of pending investigations, it would be premature to take a view on specific aspects. However, he recalled the clarifications provided by the Ministry of External Affairs to Italy in its earlier communication prior to the return of the marines.”

Monti also thanked Manmohan Singh for the update.

The external affairs ministry has given “clarifications” to Italy that “according to well-settled Indian jurisprudence,” the case would not fall under the category of rarest of rare that attracts the death penalty.

“The law of the land is very clear, and only in rarest of rare cases is death penalty given,” External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said.

Monti had also called up Khurshid last week after the NIA registered a case against the marines. The two marines, on board Italian cargo vessel Enrica Lexie, had

allegedly shot dead the Indian fishermen Feb 15 last year suspecting them to be pirates.

Monti also conveyed his condolences to the prime minister on the sad incident in South Sudan which led to the death of five Indian peacekeepers and injuries to four others, the sources said.

–Indo-Asian News service

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