Italian PM raises issue of marines with Salman Khurshid

Salman Khurshid

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti on Tuesday raised the issue of its marines, currently facing trial in India for allegedly shooting down two Indian fishermen, with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

"Italian Prime Minister requested for a brief interaction with External Affairs Minister on the margins of ASEM Summit. On the issue of two Italian marines, EAM mentioned that a decision is awaited from the Indian courts. It is well known that Indian judiciary is fair, free and reasonable, he added," government sources said.

Khurshid is to participate in the 9th summit of the 48-member Asia-Europe meeting to be held between November 5-6, his first overseas visit since becoming External Affairs Minister.

New Delhi has been maintaining that since the case was pending in the courts, the government cannot do much, a stand which has not gone down well with Italy, which has been raising the issue at every possible level.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, the marines on board the Italian ship 'Enrica Lexie', had allegedly shot dead two Indian fishermen -- Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Bi -- off Kerala's coast on February 15.

They were detained on February 19 and were sent to Central Prison in Thiruvananthapuram. Later on, they were granted bail in June but on the condition that they must remain in Indian territory.

Last week, Italian Defence Minister Giampaolo di Paola spoke to the marines via video and audio hookup shown on Italian TV, telling them he was "confident" India's supreme court will recognise Italy's right to try the pair in Italy and that they would soon return home.

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