India refuses to let Italian ambassador leave country
India’s Supreme Court has indefinitely extended its order barring Italy’s ambassador from leaving the country and rejected his explanation of Rome’s refusal to return two Italian marines charged with killing two Indian fishermen.
Ambassador Daniele Mancini had given the court a written promise the men would return to India by this Friday, but last week Italy announced the men would not go back. The court then barred Mr Mancini from leaving India and asked him to explain his position.
Chief Justice Altamas Kabir responded angrily yesterday when Mr Mancini, through his lawyer, said his promise had represented his government’s position, which had changed. Mr Kabir insisted the ambassador’s pledge had been a personal one, and he had violated it. “We never expected the Italian government to act in this manner,” he said.
Mr Mancini cited his own diplomatic immunity in opposing the court’s order. The next court hearing is set for 2 April.
The dispute has damaged relations between India and Italy.
Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh has said there will be consequences if Italy does not return the two men.
The marines were part of a military security team on board a cargo ship when they fired at a fishing boat in February last year, killing the fishermen. They said they mistook the fishing boat for a pirate craft.
Italy maintains the shooting occurred in international waters and that Rome should have jurisdiction. India says the ship was in its territorial waters.
The court had allowed the marines to leave India in February to vote in Italian elections and to celebrate Easter, on condition they returned.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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