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India's letter gave Italy confidence

NEW DELHI, Mar 22, 2013, DHNS: 1:41 IST
A “comprehensive letter” containing assurances by India led to Italy’s decision to send the marines back, but it was “necessary” to suspend the diplomatic pledge to wrest those promises, Rome has said.

Addressing a press conference here, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Steffan de Mistura asked the Indian authorities to set up a special court “as soon as possible” to try the marines.

He stressed that Rome wanted justice and clarity on the issue. Mistura asserted that it was important for Rome to a get guarantee from New Delhi on death penalty and freedom for the marines during their trial in India.

In Rome, Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said it was “necessary” to make sure that the men did not face death penalty. He said without buying time for talks by reneging on the pledge to return the duo, “we would not have been able to negotiate the current conditions, which envisage (good) conditions of everyday living and a guarantee that death penalty will not applied.”

Mistura said: “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.” Noting that death penalty was unacceptable in Italy, he said: “According to the Italian law, death penalty was an extremely serious aspect and was unacceptable legislatively and culturally in Italy.”

The minister referred to the written assurance from India which led to Italy’s decision to send back the marines. “That was enough for the Italian government to take away the suspension. A potential diplomatic crisis has definitely been avoided,” he added.

The minister added that the official position of Rome on the matter still remained the same, that it reserves the right to try the marines.

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