Italy recalls India envoy in marine murder trial row

Italy's ambassador to India Daniele Mancini (file pic) Image copyright AFP
Image caption Italy's ambassador to India Daniele Mancini (file pic) is to return to Rome "for consultations"

Italy has recalled its ambassador to India in a continuing dispute with Delhi over two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen.

The foreign ministry said Daniele Mancini would fly to Rome immediately because of "yet another unacceptable, deliberate delay" in the courts.

The Supreme Court was due to hear the case on Tuesday but it was postponed.

Italy was already angered by an Indian decision to try the two men for the 2012 killings under an anti-piracy law.

The marines said they mistook the fishermen for pirates.

In a statement, the foreign ministry in Rome said: "The Italian government has decided the immediate recall to Rome of its ambassador to New Delhi, Daniele Mancini, for consultations."

It condemned "the evident Indian inability to manage this issue" and said its main objective was the return of the two marines to their homeland.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Massimiliano Latorre (L) and Salvatore Girone were first held on suspicion of murder in February 2012

On Tuesday the Supreme Court deferred the case until next week, when prosecutors said they were waiting for a decision from the government on the law under which the men should be tried.

Outgoing Prime Minister Enrico Letta said last week the proposal to try Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone under anti-piracy legislation was "unacceptable". Officials said using the Suppression of Unlawful Acts (SUA) maritime security law was tantamount to labelling the men and their country as "terrorists".

Correspondents say India's external affairs ministry is keen for the marines not to be tried under the anti-piracy law, while the home ministry disagrees. The authorities had originally planned to use part of the law that would have brought the death penalty, but then decided to use a different section carrying a maximum 10-year jail term.

The diplomatic spat has dragged on since Mr Latorre and Mr Girone were first detained on suspicion of murder in February 2012.

The marines, who had been guarding an Italian oil tanker, opened fire on the men off the Kerala coast in 2012.

Although they were allowed home to vote in elections a year ago, Rome initially refused to send them back, arguing the case should take place in Italy as the incident took place in international waters.

The men eventually returned to Delhi in March 2013.

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