Amid the continued row over the detention of two Italian marines by India, Italy’s Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said he expects New Delhi will arrive at a “quick” solution, which he says is having a negative effect on the international community’s anti—piracy efforts.
Foreign Minister Terzi said any conflict between countries over jurisdiction and interpretation of the law of the sea in anti—piracy and counter—terrorism operations should be addressed through “mediation with honesty and clarity.”
Addressing reporters here, Mr. Terzi said UN leader Ban Ki—moon also shared his “concerns” about the fallout from the diplomatic row between Italy and India over the detention of two Italian servicemen Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who have been charged with the murder of two Indian fishermen.
Mr. Terzi said a “very unfortunate situation” has developed with authorities of the Indian judiciary as well as with those in the state of Kerala over the issue.
“We expect a quick solution will be facilitated first by the Indian authorities, with whom we have been in contact constantly, and there will be really a need to assure the international community that we are placing a very strong effort on countering piracy.
“This episode is already having a very, very negative effect on the anti—piracy efforts of the international community,” Mr. Terzi said, adding that the killing of the two Indian fishermen is an “unfortunate loss”.
Latorre and Girone were stationed on a merchant ship off the southern Indian coast tasked with protecting it from pirate attacks. They fired warning shots at a fishing boat on February 15, believing it to be a pirate vessel, they said.
The marines were arrested on February 19, four days after they opened fire while travelling on a ship 'Enrica Lexie', and killed two fishermen off the coast of Kerala, apparently suspecting them to be pirates.
Mr. Terzi said it is “not completely clear” where the responsibility of the incident lies, as the Italian ship, protected by vessel detachment unit of highly trained national Italian servicemen, was in international water and was “convinced” to go close to the territorial water to enter the Port of Cochin.
The row with India was “very unfortunate”, but the details were “very clear,” Mr. Terzi said, adding that the ship the marines were protecting was in international waters, and the marines should be dealt with under Italian jurisdiction.
Mr. Terzi said the jurisdiction in international seas belongs to the nation whose flag is on the ship.
He added that the military men on the ship were involved in an anti-piracy operation mandated by the U.N. Security Council and European Union.
But New Delhi insists the two marines should be tried in India because the fishermen died on an Indian boat, and a court in Kerala has rejected their bail application.
Mr. Terzi said about 180 foreign personal are still in the hand of pirates of the coast of Somalia, and piracy poses a regular threat to ships and its crew.
The Italian government has paid a compensation of USD 190,000 to the families of Selestian Valentine, 45, and Ajesh Pinky, 24, but that has not helped stop the diplomatic row between India and Italy from escalating.
Last week, Italy recalled its ambassador from New Delhi on Friday over the issue.