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'Issue of marines on agenda for EU-India consultations'

Rome : The trial of two Italian marines in India over the killing of two Indian fishermen will be on the agenda at upcoming EU-India political consultations, Italy's Foreign Minister Emma Bonino has said.  “(EU
PTI January 21, 2014 18:29 IST
PTI
Rome : The trial of two Italian marines in India over the killing of two Indian fishermen will be on the agenda at upcoming EU-India political consultations, Italy's Foreign Minister Emma Bonino has said.  “(EU High Foreign Affairs Representative) Catherine Ashton confirmed it,” Bonino was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA after a meeting of the EU Council of Ministers.  “She agrees with our position and our request, and has been following the marines dossier for a long time,” Bonino added.

The EU-India political consultations will be held in New Delhi on January 24.

Meanwhile, a top European Council leader has threatened India with economic consequences over the trial of the marines under an anti-piracy law that carries the death penalty.  Antonio Tajani, a vice-president of the European Council, backed Italy's efforts to save the marines from a possible death penalty in India.

“Europe cannot conduct free trade with a country that adopts an anti-piracy law that calls for the death penalty,” Tajani was quoted as saying by ANSA.  The EU as a bloc of 28 countries is India's largest trading partner. Trade between the two sides was valued at 75.8 billion euro during 2012.

In New Delhi, Indian officials said the National Investigation Agency, which is probing the matter, will file a chargesheet against marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone after getting sanction to prosecute them under the law which provides only death penalty.

The marines allegedly shot dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012, sparking diplomatic tensions between India and Italy.

Italy approached India's Supreme Court on 15 January amid fears that the NIA intends to prosecute the marines under the anti-terror Suppression of Unlawful Acts against safety of Maritime Navigation And Fixed Platforms on Continental Shelf Act.

The marines, deployed on the Italian-flagged oil tanker MT Enrica Lexie, have said they mistook the fishermen for pirates. They are now staying in the Italian embassy in New Delhi awaiting trial.

Rome wants the marines to be tried in Italy, claiming the incident took place in international waters. However, New Delhi said it has the right to try the Italian personnel as the victims were Indians on board an Indian fishing boat.