Italian marines case: Italy questions ballistic evidence

Diplomat alleges inconsistency in bullets found and those used.

November 15, 2013 10:06 am | Updated November 16, 2021 10:17 pm IST - Rome:

A top official in Rome on Wednesday expressed doubts about the evidence used by Indian authorities to charge two Italian marines for the murder of two fishermen.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone are accused of shooting the Indian fishermen in 2012 after mistaking them for pirates. The two were serving as part of the security team on an Italian oil tanker crossing the Indian Ocean.

But Staffan de Mistura, diplomat who is following the case on behalf of the Italian government, said there was an “inconsistency” between the bullets found in the victims’ bodies and those used by the Italian marines.

The fishermen were killed by 7.62 - bore bullets, while Latorre and Girone’s rifles used 5.56 - bore bullets, the Italian edition of the Huffington Post website reported.

Mr. De Mistura was briefing the Italian Parliament two days after four other Italian marines who were on the oil tanker Enrica Lexie with Girone and Latorre were questioned via videolink, from the Indian embassy in Rome, by India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA).


The diplomat said Italy was relieved that the case had been taken up by the NIA, a federal agency, because the Kerala Police, which initially conducted the investigation, had become “politicised.” The Italian marines were arrested in February 2012 in Kerala, after their oil tanker docked there.

Earlier this year, there was a diplomatic tussle after Italy threatened to renege on a pledge to return the two men to India after they had been granted temporary leave home, to vote in February’s general elections.

In retaliation, India banned the Italian ambassador from leaving the country. Rome authorities eventually relented, sending the marines back to New Delhi, after receiving assurances that they would not face the death penalty.

Latorre and Girone are currently on bail and residing in the premises of the Italian embassy in New Delhi.

Italy has always maintained that they should be acquitted because the actions they are accused of took place in international waters, outside of India’s jurisdiction.

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