EU-India Summit Fails to Defuse Row Over Italian Marines

The EU-India Summit did not ease tension between India and Italy caused due to the murder case against two marines.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (right) and European Council President Donald Tusk at the EU-India summit at the EU Council building in Brussels, Wednesday, 30 March 2016. (Photo: AP)

The European Union and India failed, on Wednesday, to defuse a long-running row over two Italian marines accused of murder and the case moved to an international tribunal after four years of diplomatic squabbles.

At a joint summit in Brussels, held after delays imposed by Italy, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and EU leaders maintained their positions over the case.

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 New Delhi, where he lives at the Italian ambassador’s residence and reports regularly to police.

The EU shares Italy’s concerns to find an expeditious solution for the prolonged restriction of liberty of the two Marines. India stressed the need for rendering due justice for the families of the Indian fishermen who were killed.
Joint Statement

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 in the Hague say the delays resulted from Italy’s 2012 move to escalate the affair to international courts rather than letting Indian courts handle it.

The trial has not commenced due to an obstructive course of action by India. Italy is now trying to shift the blame onto India.
Neeru Chadha, India’s Lead Lawyer

Read the live updates of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Brussels on The Quint.

Italy-India Relationship

Italy maintains both marines were immune to prosecution since they were serving on a UN-backed anti-piracy mission and the oil tanker they were escorting was in international waters when it fired on the fishermen.

Also read: PM Offered to Trade Marines for Proof Against Sonia Gandhi: Report

Italy has paid $190,000 in compensation to each victim’s family.

India hoped the Brussels summit would bring a thaw in ties with the European Union and persuade Italy to refrain from blocking India’s membership in a key global group on missile technology – Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Rome single-handedly scuppered India’s bid to join in September last year.

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) is an informal political understanding among states that seek to limit the proliferation of missiles and missile technology.
MTCR Website

At the summit, the EU and India committed to continue talks for a trade and investment deal, and shared common positions on foreign affairs and security issues.

The European Investment Bank, the financial arm of the EU, agreed its biggest loan to India to develop a metro line in the Indian city of Lucknow with 450 million euros of EU money.

Also read: Terrorism Tops PM’s Brussels Talk, Says India Won’t Bow Down

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