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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Italy reneges its pledges - Marines of Enrica Lexie let off the hook !


Individuals may act without integrity, may not keep up words / promises – Nations are expected to act with exemplary honesty… alas, that is not to be – seeing the temerity with which the Italian government has announced that the Marines will not be back !   It is not only the temerity of Italy but the pusillanimity of India that is brazen….   Indian State needs to act strongly and courageously  -  Italian Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini  should be declared persona non grata and asked to leave India if the two Italian marines are not sent back to India to face trial in the next 10 days. 

It is the Ambassador who gave the undertaking to the Supreme Court that the two marines – Massimilano Latorre and Salvatore Girone – would return to New Delhi after voting in Italy, but late on Monday, the Italian government reneged on that pledge. The episode has profoundly embarrassed the Indian government, with the Opposition accusing it of either being complicit with the Italian government or of being incompetent.  There is still time for them to return but brazenly the Italian Govt says that they will not….  Going by the media reports, the Supreme Court could summon the Italian Ambassador to explain himself and for likely contempt proceedings. If, however, Mancini cites diplomatic immunity – to which he is entitled – that would give the Indian government sufficient grounds to send him packing. 

There appears to be limited options…….. why should there be any case made out for diplomacy and diplomatic relations – those two Italian marines are charged with homicide for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast; India provides them the luxury of choice of prison, the food that is being offered to them; sending them home for Christmas and for voting in their general elections…….. under the pretext that  since they were not residents of India, they were not eligible to vote in the Italian Embassy.  Italy cannot offer them any small concession flexing their rule – and voting in such a circumstance is the most important thing that India allowed them to travel and now placed itself in the dirt embarrassment.

They are tried for homicide and there is talk of the man who provided them guarantee as possibly seeking immunity – where is the ‘rule of law’. PTI quoted Parasaran as saying additionally that having submitted itself to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the Italian government, as represented by its Ambassador Mancini, should abide by its undertaking. Newspaper reports suggest that on Tuesday, India’s External Affairs Ministry summoned Mancini and “conveyed India’s position on the matter in the strongest possible terms”.  India expects Italy to fulfill its “sovereign undertaking” to the Supreme Court. It was only following this undertaking that the Supreme Court allowed the two marines to travel to and remain in Italy for a period of four weeks and return to India under the care, supervision and control of the Italian Republic
As long as India had custody of  Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, it had many options. Without custody, those options decline dramatically and that is a situation wrought upon thyself by the Nation.  Clearly, the Italian government has lied to the Indian courts about its intentions. The Italian embassy had given a false undertaking guaranteeing the return of the marines. ~ as they call it – perhaps the ‘christmas trip’ was a dry run.  If this is taken lying down, it would smack of deliberate mishandling and exhibition of lack of courage.  Sure more conspiracy theories will hit the roof linking them to all tangles with Italians including the tainted Agusta Westland chopper payoffs; and political opposition will also link this to  Sonia heads the ruling party.   

The permission conned must be immediately revoked and the two declared proclaimed absconders.  Interpol must be alerted to apprehend them for crimes committed against Indian citizens. Also strong action be taken against Italy including banning trade relations with a Nation which has conned Indian Republic.  Time and again European Nations have treated Asian Nations as inferior to them and this is another such sordid episode.  Why at all was the Nation concerned about whether the Marines vote at all and why should India regard the voting regulations of Italy, when they are subject to so much varied interpretation.  

On expected lines, BJP and CPM who accused the government of acting in collusion with Italy. The whole incident appears to have been scripted," BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said amid indications that his party was all set to corner the government in Parliament. CPM was also scathing, with its Kerala unit accusing the Centre and the Congress-led government in the state of playing an unfair game to ensure that the Italian marines did not have to submit themselves to Indian law. Sad that the family of the deceased would feel lurching cluelessly praying that the killers are punished amply.  

The action of  Senior advocate Harish Salve, who had convinced the Supreme Court to transfer the marines’ trial to the Union government’s jurisdiction from Kerala,  needs to be commended.  It is stated he has announced that he will no longer defend and be the counsel for Italy in the petition challenging the Kerala government’s jurisdiction to arrest and prosecute the marines.   He is quoted as saying that  “I am first an officer of the court, then advocate for any client. The Italy government’s action is unacceptable.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
13th Mar 2013.

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