Italian envoy cannot leave India, says Supreme Court

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said the Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini cannot leave the country for now, a consequence of Italy’s refusal to return two marines to face trial in India.

The judges have also asked the Italian government to furnish an explanation for reneging on its assurance that the naval officers would be sent back.

The Ambassador, who had given the court a written guarantee that the marines would come back to Delhi by March 22, has to share his response by Monday.

Earlier this week, Italy informed India that despite its guarantees,  the naval officers would not be sent back. The Supreme Court had allowed them four weeks at home to  celebrate Easter and vote in the national election.

The Prime Minister yesterday warned that “there will be consequences” if Italy does not respect its commitment to the Supreme Court.   Before it decides what those consequence might be, the government reportedly wants to wait till  March 22, the deadline set by the Supreme Court for the return of the marines.

Amid reports that the government may retaliate by expelling him, Mr  Mancini asserted yesterday, “I will not leave this country till a competent authority makes me a persona non grata.”

Italy says that its decision  was taken after India ignored its written offer for diplomatic negotiations, and because New Delhi does not have jurisdiction over the case.

The marines were guarding an Italian tanker off the Kochi coast in February last year when they say they mistook two fishermen for pirates, and shot them.

Italy claims the shooting took place in international waters; India disagrees.

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