Irked Italy: marine too ill to return to India

AP News
Posted: Dec 17, 2014 12:05 PM
Irked Italy: marine too ill to return to India

ROME (AP) — Diplomatic tensions between Italy and India are rising after Italy said a marine wanted in connection with a 2012 shooting was not well enough to be sent back to India for questioning.

Italy says the marine, who was allowed to return from India earlier this year after suffering a stroke, is too ill to return there, deepening the dispute over the 2012 shooting death of two Indian fishermen.

Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said Wednesday "conditions aren't there" for Massimiliano Latorre to return to India as Indian authorities demand. Latorre is one of two Italian marines detained by India while assigned to anti-piracy duty aboard an Italian cargo ship.

The Italians have said the fishermen were mistaken for pirates. Rome says the shooting occurred in international waters, while India says it happened in its territorial waters.

On Tuesday India's Supreme Court refused to extend Latorre's leave and denied holiday leave to the other marine, Salvatore Girone.

Saying "inalienable principles of international sovereignty" are at stake, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni recalled Italy's ambassador to "express Italy's irritation and dissatisfaction" and to decide its next steps.

He told Italian state TV Italy might seek international arbitration.

Nearly three years after the shooting, no formal charges have been lodged. Indian authorities say charges cannot be filed without both men being in India and blame uncertainty over what law to use to prosecute them for the delays. Gentiloni called those delays "incredible."

Both ministers stopped short of saying the ailing marine won't go back in January after his leave ends, but made clear that if his health warrants more treatment, Latorre will stay in Italy. Italian news reports say he might need heart surgery soon.


Associated Press writer Nirmala George contributed from New Delhi.