The die was cast on Saturday when the External Affairs Ministry sent a message to the Italian consulate asking the two Italian Marines, later charged with firing on Indian fishermen, to surrender. But the Italians made one last attempt, at saving themselves, in 90 minutes of discussion at South Block on Sunday, government sources said, describing the two-day drama that ended in Kochi. “They tried to do their best, but it was strange that a European country was initially not willing to let its people obey the law of the land. India maintained a tough stand ever since the conversation between External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and his Italian counterpart on Saturday. A little later, the Ministry sent a message to the Italian mission telling them that the men will have to surrender,” the sources said.

A multi-ministry delegation from Rome held discussions with Indian diplomats, offering a joint investigation and trial in Italian courts, provided the men wanted by the Kerala police were allowed to return home. With India sticking to its stand that no diplomat was involved and the shooting was a criminal act, the Italian delegation also offered a trial at an ‘international court.' This was also not acceptable to the Indian diplomats.

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