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Italian crew to be tried under Indian law: Antony

india Updated: Feb 27, 2012 01:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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Amid the crisis over the arrest of two Italian marines for killing Indian fishermen, Italy’s foreign minister will come to New Delhi for a two-day visit. Defence minister AK Antony has said that the guilty will be prosecuted as per Indian law.

Although the visit of Italian minister Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant’ Agata was planned much in advance, the shooting incident off the Kerala coast in which the unarmed fishermen were killed, has added greater significance to the visit.

Terzi’s India visit also comes on the heels of his deputy’s failure to resolve the issue. The Italian foreign minister will arrive here on Tuesday and is expected to discuss the arrest of the two marines with India.

Ahead of his visit, the union government made it clear once again that the case against the two Italian soldiers will continue in India. Antony, during a tour in Kerala, said on Sunday: “The union government will support all efforts of the Kerala government in this regard. The case will go on as per Indian law. Indian courts are independent.”

"The enquiry is on in the right direction. The government of Kerala is handling the case very effectively," Antony told reporters. Announcing the visit of the Italian foreign minister, the ministry of external affairs said in a statement, "The visit is at the invitation of external affairs minister SM Krishna. This would be the first high-level visit from Italy since the new government was formed in Italy in November 2011."

During the visit, the two sides will discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest, the external affairs ministry said.

The Italians maintained that the fishermen were mistaken as pirates by the two soldiers on board an Italian ship. Apart from the shooting incident, the two ministers are also expected to discuss the Iranian nuclear crisis and the eurozone situation in the bilateral talks.

Italy’s deputy foreign minister Staffan de Mistura had rushed to India and even met Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy. But a diplomatic solution could not be achieved even as the Italians claimed that the incident took place in international waters. Earlier on Sunday, the Kerala police sized four boxes of materials from the vessel to trace the weapons used by the marines.