Italian foreign minister quits over marines' return to India


Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi resigned Tuesday, protesting against his government's decision to send back to India two Italian marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen.

Terzi's resignation came four days after the Italian government reversed its earlier decision, and sent back the two marines, Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, who face murder charges for killing two Indian fishermen in February last year.

"I resign in contention with the decision to send the marines back. The misgivings I expressed had no effect on the decision taken," said Terzi, indicating a rift in the government on the issue.

"I am resigning because for 40 years I have maintained, and still maintain, that the reputation of the country, the armed forces and Italian diplomacy, should be safeguarded," he said, announcing his decision in parliament. "My reservations had no impact and the decision was not mine," he added.

"I am also standing down in solidarity with our two marines and their families," said Terzi.

Taking a different line, Italian defence minister Giampaolo Di Paola vowed not to resign. "I know what Lattore and Girone said on the night of March 21: 'Don't abandon us'. I won't abandon the ship," he said.

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