Kerala Chief Minsiter Oomen Chandy took a tough stand on the issue of two marines -- Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone – who were not being allowed to come back to India by Italy to face trial in the killing of two Kerala fishermen, and said the State would not compromise on the issue and the Centre was responsible and duty bound to bring them back and render justice.

He questioned the issue of diplomatic immunity with regard to a pending criminal trial.

Talking to journalists here after meeting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at the parliament house, Mr. Chandy, who urgently flew to Delhi mainly to take up the marines issue, termed Rome‘s decision was a diplomatic strategy.

“How can a country use its diplomatic status to cheat the Supreme Court (of India) of another nation. If Italy fails to fulfill its word, it will be a diplomatic tragedy,” he said angrily adding that Rome’s decision was unacceptable and at any cost they should be tried under the Indian laws before the Indian court.

The CM said he had requested Dr. Singh to take all possible steps to ensure the return of the two marines. “I hope Italy will come around and obey Indian laws,” he said.

Asked whether the Supreme Court had “erred” in allowing them to go to Italy to poll their votes, he said: “I am not going to find any fault. What next is the specific agenda. They will have to face the trial here.”

Meanwhile, Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahmed hoped that the issue would be resolved amicably and the marines would be sent back to India to face trial after the new government assumed office in Rome as the polls concluded recently (Feb.24 and 25).

He told “The Hindu” that the four week permission given by the Supreme Court for the Marines to go to Italy and return to India after voting would expire on March 22. Dr. Singh’s statement in parliament on the issue would have its effect, Mr. Ahmed hoped.

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