Marine issue: SC may pose tough questions to Italian envoy Daniele Mancini

Daniele Mancini

The court had issued notices to Mancini and also the two marines asking them to file their response by tomorrow.

The two marines, Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, were allowed by the apex court to go to Italy to cast their vote in the elections there after the Italian Ambassador had given an assurance to send them back.

The government is mulling various options including declaring the Italian Ambassador as persona non-grata and downgrading of relations.

It has already asked its Ambassador-designate to Italy Basant Kumar Gupta not to proceed to Rome as a review of the entire gamut of ties with Italy was underway by the government.

If this comes through, there will be no Ambassador-level representation between the two countries.

Going forward on these options would depend on the outcome of the Supreme Court hearing tomorrow.

As legal and diplomatic circles debate the issue, the government has also to consider what step it needs to take if for some reason Mancini decides not to respond to the court notice by tomorrow.

Keeping in view the sensitive nature of the case, the government may also seek directions from the apex court on the next course of action.

The matter was posted for further hearing tomorrow after the Attorney General pleaded for an urgent hearing on this issue.

On the last hearing, the AG brought the issue before the bench saying that "its a breach of undertaking given to the highest court of the land and the government is extremely concerned about it".

The two marines were on board Italian vessel 'Enrica Lexie', when they shot dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast on February 15, last year.

The marines were allowed by the apex court on February 22 to travel to Italy for four weeks under the control and custody of the Italian Ambassador, to cast their ballot in the elections scheduled there for February 24-25.

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