Marines case is bilateral issue: UN

The stance has been seen as 'hand-washing' in Italy

Marines case is bilateral issue: UN

In a blow to Italy’s attempt to internationalise the case of two Italian marines being tried in India for killing two fishermen, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has asked Rome to resolve the issue bilaterally.

“It’s better for the question to be addressed bilaterally, rather than with the involvement of the UN,” Ban was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA, sparking fury in Italy.

His comments came a day after Italy petitioned the UN over the trial of the marines under a strict anti-piracy law and vowed to exercise “all options” to bring back its personnel.

Italian foreign minister Emma Bonino told the parliament that she felt “great bitterness and perplexity” that Ban said the case was a “bilateral” issue. She, however, added that Ban “guaranteed me comprehension and assured he would subsequently take action with the Indian authorities”.

Ban’s comments were seen as hand-washing by many in Italy. “The UN has once again confirmed its expensive uselessness with the secretary-general, a marginal, irrelevant figure on the world arena, refusing to make the kidnapping of our marines in India an international issue,” said Maurizio Gasparri, a Senator for ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right Forza Italia party.

“Ban Ki-moon offends Italy by relegating the issue to the level of a dispute between our country and India, when we are faced with the arrogance of a pirate state with respect to our soldiers,” he added.

On Thursday, Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the case could have “negative implications” for the fight against piracy, in which both the EU and NATO are engaged with major operations against Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean.

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