In a major twist, the Italian foreign ministry has refused to send back two marines who are charged with the murder of two Indian fishermen.
Italian marines Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone were arrested for the murder of two fishermen off the Kerala coast, while on anti-piracy duty of guarding an Italian oil tanker in February 2012. The arrest led to a diplomatic row between the two nations, with Italy claiming that Delhi has violated international law by putting the marines on trial in India.
Recently, the Supreme Court of India granted permission to the two marines to go home and vote in Italy's general election held last month. On Monday, the Italian foreign ministry notified India that they will not send the two marines back to India to face trial.
"Italy has always argued that Indian authorities have violated their obligations under international law...especially the principle of immunity from trial by the organs of a foreign state and the United Nation Convention on the Law of the Sea," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Rome has said that they want to try the marines in Italy, as the incident took place in International waters. They argued that Indians do not have jurisdiction in the case, reported BBC.
The two marines have expressed happiness over staying back in Italy and continuing their work. "Now we are finally happy," Latorre told Italy's ANSA news agency. "I thank the President of the republic, all institutions, the government and the Italian people who have always supported us with a great number of postcards that never made us feel alone," Latorre said, adding "I also thank all those who have supported us through social networks."
India has so far not made any public comment regarding the issue. Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid said that they would examine the notification from Italy before making a comment. "Reading the letter, no point in commenting without reading what they have to say."
Check out what the twitterati has to say about Italy's denial to send back the marines:
Paresh Rawal @Babu_Bhaiyaa tweeted: "Ha.Italy refuses to send marines back to india..Now Indian Govt & Judiciary can hold their head & sing- अतिथि तुम कब आओगे ?!"
Tinu Cherian Abraham @tinucherian: "Wondering if Ram Singh's suicide is one of the reasons for the #ItalianMarines non-return to India."
Shirish Kunder @ShirishKunder: "#ItalianMarines were allowed to go home for Christmas, Voting, Breakfast and Dinner anyways. They may as well do Bunga Bunga also there."
Suresh En @surnell: "Holidaying #ItalianMarines refuse to call of the holiday. And responsibility lies squarely with Central Govt and not #Kerala who opposed it."
ankit @buzzingah: "Earlier it was Warren Anderson of Bhopal Gas tragedy and now the #ItalianMarines We just don't learn from our mistakes."
Ramesh Srivats @rameshsrivats: "These #ItalianMarines should promise to come back as and when the court passes judgment. That should take care of the next 20 years or so."
Kirat Shukla @KiratShukla: "As soon as the Marines left the Indian airspace, the Italian govt. started doing the Harlem Shake. #ItalianMarines."
Free Spirit @onlynow_rohan: "#ItalianMarines Its like hostel for them, vote and agian be at the hostel, christmas holidays and at the end they decided not to return back."
roOp @roOopal_: "It's like an international tight slap on India's face. #ItalianMarines."