The decision of the Italian government not to send back the marines Massimilano Lattore and Salvatore Girone charged with gunning down two Indian fishermen at sea to stand trial in India has triggered a storm of protest in Kerala.

Leader of the Opposition V.S. Achuthanandan has accused the State government of conspiring with the Centre to provide an escape route for the Italian marines.

Addressing the media here on Tuesday, he said the formal announcement by Italy that the two marines would not be returning to India for trial exposed the Central government’s complicity. He called on the Centre to take strong measures to bring back the Italians who were allowed to go home on an assurance from the Italian Ambassador that they would return for the trial. Now that they have violated the assurance, the bail should be cancelled and the marines should be imprisoned, he said.

March taken out

The Kerala Swathantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation urged the Centre to launch a diplomatic initiative to bring back the marines and try them under the Indian law. Fishermen affiliated to the federation took out a march to the Secretariat here and burned Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and an Italian marine in effigy to protest against the decision.

Inaugurating the stir, T. Peter, secretary, National Fishworkers Forum, alleged that the Government of India had surrendered the country’s sovereign rights. He said the Centre had failed to present its case before the Supreme Court.

Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) vice president P.K. Gurudasan said Italy’s decision not to return the marines to India was a challenge to the Indian judiciary and the law. He said the State government had failed to implead itself in the Supreme Court when the marines sought bail for four weeks to return home. The government did not submit a review petition either. This exposed the complicity of the Government of Kerala, he alleged.

The State committee of the Revolutionary Youth Front (RYF) said the unholy nexus between the Italian Ambassador, Indian Prime Minister, and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi had enabled the marines to evade the Indian law.

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