Showing posts with label Italian Navy men. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian Navy men. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


  The issue of two Italian Navy guards arrested for killing fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15th,  2012 from the oil tanker, M V Enrica Lexie,  has now become the biggest diplomatic issue between Italy and India. The relation between the two nations was peaceful and cordial until this incident. A paradigm shift has now taken place to the extent of India compelled to keeping its ambassador as a hostage against the absconding Navy men and the foreign Ministry is at a loss as to handling the issue properly as there is no parallel to the case anywhere in the world.

The reason for not returning the Navy men before the Supreme Court after they were allowed to go for home to vote in the national elections held in Italy recently is said to be on the grounds that Italy considered India had no powers to Try the Navy men in India as the shooting was allegedly taken place in international waters.

It was with the permission of Supreme Court that the navy men left India and as such the Court cannot ignore a flagrant breach of promise made before it by the Italian Ambassador and the willful hindrance to the court's trial proceedings, consequently, the Court ordered the Government to be vigilant against the Italian Ambassador leaving India.  Actually there is still time for the Navy men to present themselves before the Supreme Court;  as the due date of their arrival to India is only on the 22nd this month. But Italian Government has stated prior to that date that they would not return to India, creating quite a stir in the political circles and the Prime Minister himself had to make a statement in Parliament condemning Italy in order to quell the anger of Members.

 The Italian authorities were seething with impatience from the very moment of the capture and incarceration of Navy men by Kerala Police. Various Italian Ministers visited them daily and inquired of their well being. They were in a mood to ‘get the hell out of it’ by hook or by crook as early as possible.

The Navy men arrested are no ordinary young men. They belonged to Italy’s prestigious and highly decorated San Marco Regiment established way back in 1713 and Italy cannot think of them languishing in an Indian Jail for doing, what Italy thinks, their duty. Italy thought that once the trial and punishment was over they could take back the Navy men to home on the strength of the extradition treaty signed by the two countries. But the trial procedures painfully continued.

As for the Marines, they could not have chosen a worse place than the Kerala Coast to show off their bravery.The men who died were Catholic fishermen and the fishermen community, by and large, belonged to Catholic sect which has an Italian connexion. Kerala has predominant communist presence and they will not sit still once they got a matter connected to Italy as the President of their rival party, Indian National Congress, is Italian-born Sonia Gandhi which makes the Congress men to go an extra mile to show that they were not giving any undue favor to Italians and it worked against the Navy men. In short the two Italian marines made the small state hyper active in religious, political and diplomatic circles for sometime.

The Navy men were arrested in February 2012 and two months after, the Italian Government paid a full and final ex-gratia payment of one Crore rupees, around two hundred thousand Dollars, each to the next of kin of the deceased fishermen. Though the families’ bereavement can never be compensated with any sum of money, it was a fair deal and the fishermen were satisfied with the compensation and became inactive in further court actions.

It seems that the Italians thought that payment of compensation might speed up matters. The criminal aspects of the case continued hearings in court. The Italians could not wait any more and precipitated the matter to the point of holding back the prisoners and boycotting the trial in India.

The next hearing of the case is on April 2nd. It is also possible that Italians changed mind and produced the Navy men on the appointed date and paved way for a logical settlement.

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