Solution to marine row only with judiciary's nod

Italy tries to maintain uncertainty over Latorre's return

India on Tuesday made it clear to Italy that any solution worked out by the two governments in the marines’ issue could be implemented only with the Indian judiciary’s approval.

Rome has sought to maintain uncertainty over the return of one of its two marines to stand trial here for allegedly killing fishermen off the Kerala coast.

Italy’s Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said that the government would see if marine Massimiliano Latorre was fit enough to return to India to stand trial along with his colleague Salvatore Girone for allegedly killing two fishermen – Ajesh Binki and V Jalestine – off Kerala coast in 2012.

The statement was apparently intended to maintain the uncertainty over the return of Latorre, whom the Supreme Court of India had in September 12 last given a four-month break from the trial after he suffered cerebral ischemia.

 Latorre had filed an “unequivocal and unambiguous undertaking” on his return after four months and the Italian government had also told the Supreme Court that its ambassador in New Delhi was willing to give any guarantee for return of Latorre.

During a radio interview on Monday, Gentiloni said the health of Latorre was “an absolute priority” for the government, which would see if he would be well enough to return to India at the end of the break in mid-January. Italian Premier Matteo Renzi was on Monday quoted by news-agency ANSA stating that India had opened a direct channel with Italy for discussion and resolving the dispute over the arrest and trial of the marines.

The Supreme Court on December 16 last rejected Latorre’s request to extend his leave to undergo further treatment in January.

 The apex court also refused to allow Girone to take a break and return to Italy to be with his family during Christmas.

The BJP-led NDA Government had not opposed the ailing Latorre’s plea, with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj saying that the decision was based on humanitarian considerations.

Italy had in 2012 declined to send the marines back to India for trial after an X-mass break. New Delhi’s tough words however had prompted Rome to change its tack and the marines had finally returned.

Swaraj recently told Parliament that the government was studying a proposal from the Italian government for a consensual solution to the dispute.

But as Gentiloni’s statement triggered speculation about the reluctance of Italy to send back Latorre, New Delhi is understood to have conveyed to Rome that even if the two governments worked out a solution, it could not be implemented unless approved by the “free, fair and impartial” judiciary of India.

New Delhi conveyed to Rome through diplomatic channels that if the Italian government did not send back Latorre, it would undermine the judiciary of India and the government here would be left with little scope to explore options to resolve the issue.

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