Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi declared on Tuesday that he was resigning because he did not agree with last week’s decision to send two marines back to India to face trial for murder.
“I can no longer be part of this government,” Terzi said during testimony to the lower house of parliament. “My reservations about sending the marines back to India were not listened to.” Sources say Terzi has political ambitions and believes the marines are an issue he can exploit.
On March 22, Mario Monti’s caretaker government reversed an earlier decision not to send the marines back to India to face trial for the murder of two Indian fisherman during anti-piracy duty in February 2012.
The marines, Massimiliano Latore and Salvatore Girone, returned to New Delhi last Friday after an assurance from the Indian government that they will not face death penalty nor will they be arrested, bringing to an end a raging 11-day diplomatic row between the two countries.
The two were accompanied by Italian deputy foreign minister Steffan de Mistura in a military plane.
The dramatic u-turn by the Italian government enabled the marines to meet the deadline set by the Supreme Court when it gave them permission to go for a month in February to vote in the elections there.
Italy had said it was important to suspend the diplomatic assurance on sending back its marines as it needed to obtain assurances from India that the soldiers wouldn’t face death penalty.
Defending their initial decision not to send back the marines even at the cost of diplomatic breach of assurance, de Mistura had said in New Delhi that death penalty was unacceptable and became an issue for the Italian government when the SC talked about setting up of a special court to try the soldiers.