Italy says witnesses cannot come to India

Italy on Wednesday reiterated that it would not send its four marines to India to be questioned by the National Investigation Agency in connection with the killing of two fishermen off the coast of Kerala by two Italian Navy personnel.

Rome, however, conveyed to New Delhi its concern over delay in the investigation by the NIA.

Staffan de Mistura, the special envoy of Italian Government, called on External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in New Delhi and discussed about the ways to expedite the investigation into the case. He was accompanied by Italy’s Ambassador to India, Daniele Mancini.

He said that Italian Government had no objection to let the NIA question its four navy personnel, who had also been on board the vessel ‘Enrica Lexie’ when their colleagues Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone had allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala on February 15, 2012.

Mistura, however, maintained that the four marines did not need to come to India as the NIA could either send a team to Italy, or send the written questions to get written replies or could even do the questioning through video-conferencing. He noted that such methods were legally permissible according to Indian laws.

The Government is likely to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court before deciding on the way forward.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said that there could be other options available for the questioning of the witnesses.

“We have explained to him (Mistura) that this is a case which relates to legal process. We as diplomats can try and facilitate an interaction between a legal viewpoint which the Italian Government has and another legal viewpoint which our Government has.

But this is ultimately a legal issue. We have suggested that we will facilitate interactions on this matter,” Akbaruddin told journalists after Italy’s Special Envoy called on External Affairs Minister.

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