THE HAGUE India blamed Italy for delaying the repatriation of an Italian marine who has been detained in Delhi for four years as Prime Minister Narenda Modi arrived at a summit with the EU in Brussels hoping to defuse the long-running row.
In 2012, India arrested two Italian marines who were escorting an oil tanker on suspicion of shooting dead two fishermen they mistook for pirates. Though they were not charged, the pair were barred from leaving India.
Massimiliano Latorre was allowed to return home last year for medical treatment. But Salvatore Girone has been confined to Delhi, where he lives at the Italian ambassador’s residence and reports regularly to police.
Italy says Girone’s human rights are being violated and has asked the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to order India to send him home.
But India’s lawyers say the delays are the result of Italy’s 2012 decision to escalate the affair to international courts rather than letting Indian courts to handle it.
“The trial has not commenced due to an obstructive course of action by India,” said Neeru Chadha, India’s lead lawyer. “Italy is now trying to shift the blame onto India.”
Italy maintains both marines were immune to prosecution since they were serving on a U.N.-backed anti-piracy mission, and because the tanker was in international waters when it fired on the fishermen.
Italy has paid $190,000 in compensation to each victim’s family.
India hopes the Brussels summit will bring a thaw in ties with the European Union and persuade Italy to refrain from blocking India’s membership of a key global group on missile technology. Rome single-handedly scuppered India’s bid to join last year.
As part of a broad agenda, the EU plans to raise the issue of the marines with Modi, according to an internal EU council note seen by Reuters.
(Reporting By Thomas Escritt; Editing by Richard Balmforth)
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