India on Wednesday admitted that the marines issue has “complicated” its relationship with Italy but said dropping of charges under the stringent anti-piracy SUA law against the two accused was an indication of a “way forward” to resolve the matter.
Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh said India was looking to resolve the matter according to its own legal and judicial processes as “expeditiously as possible”.
“I think the issue of the marines has complicated our relations with Italy. However, the fact that the charges against the marines under SUA have been dropped. This is an indication that there is a way forward,” she told reporters.
On Monday, the government had told the Supreme Court that the two marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen will not be prosecuted under the stringent Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the safety of Maritime Navigation (SUA) that attracts death penalty as maximum punishment.
Accused marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who were on board Italian vessel ‘Enrica Lexie’, had allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, 2012. They are now lodged in Italian Embassy premises in New Delhi.
The NIA completed its probe after questioning four Italian marines, who were witness to the incident, through video conferencing following their refusal to come to India.
The Italian government has been expressing disappointment over the slow pace of trial of the two marines and recalled its Ambassador in New Delhi Daniele Mancini for consultations last week while accusing Indian authorities of “unreliable” behaviour.
Italian foreign ministry had also summoned Indian envoy Basant Kumar Gupta on the issue.
The Italian government has also questioned the jurisdiction of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to investigate the case, saying that the agency cannot probe offences under the Indian Penal Code.