Italy says India violating diplomatic immunity law

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 18, 2013 4:39 PM
Italy says India violating diplomatic immunity law

ROME (Reuters) - Italy said on Monday that an Indian court's decision to bar the Italian ambassador from leaving the country violated diplomatic immunity law, but said it hoped to amicably resolve a dispute over the killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian marines.

India's Supreme Court last week ordered the envoy, Daniele Mancini, not to leave after Rome refused to send the marines back to India to face trial following a home visit.

The Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the restrictions on its ambassador were an "evident violation" of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which specifies diplomats' rights to safe passage and legal immunity.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, part of a security detail protecting the tanker Enrica Lexi, are accused of shooting the two Indian fishermen, apparently after mistaking them for pirates off the coast of Kerala in February last year.

The marines, who had been detained in India to face trial, were granted leave to return home last month to vote in Italy's general election. They had previously been granted home leave for Christmas, after which they had returned to India.

Italy says the incident took place in international waters and that India has no right to try the marines. On Monday the Italian Foreign Ministry reaffirmed its view that the marines should be tried under international law.

It said Italy hoped to find a solution to the dispute "in the spirit of the friendly relations it wishes to maintain with India".

Italy's refusal to return the sailors has sparked fury in India. The case has caused an uproar in parliament and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government is under pressure to respond forcefully.

Michael Mann, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said on Monday that Italy and India should be encouraged to find a solution based on international law, and that diplomatic immunity laws must be fully respected.

(Reporting By Catherine Hornby; Additional reporting by Ethan Bilby in Brussels; Editing by Pravin Char)