The External Affairs Ministry, on Monday, denied any move for an out-of-court settlement of the case against two Italian marines for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast, but it said officials of both countries discussed the problems in the judicial procedure and ways to move ahead.

The issue will be sorted out “within the four corners of our legal process and nothing beyond that,” Syed Akbaruddin, Ministry spokesperson, told presspersons here on Monday.

The Foreign Office’s response comes amid reports of differences between the National Investigation Agency and the Union Law Ministry on how to proceed with the case after four colleagues of the two detained marines expressed their inability to come to India to depose before the court.

The four marines were on anti-piracy duty on a merchant ship flying the Italian flag when the two marines fired on an Indian fishing vessel and killed two fishermen.

“The case is sub judice and the final outcome will depend on what the judiciary decides. We had discussions with Italians on hitches in the judicial procedure and how to move ahead,” Mr. Akbaruddin said.

The Italians have said that the four marines are currently on a delicate mission and cannot be sent to India to attend court proceedings. They are not ready to be party to this internal dispute in India, he said. While the Law Ministry wants a Letter Rogatory containing the questions to be sent to the Italians, the NIA wants the court to take a stand on the issue.

Separately, External Affairs Ministry officials said the government had never contemplated an out-of-court settlement, even when Italy offered a hefty Rs. 1 crore compensation to the families of the killed.

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