India insists Italian marines will face Indian law
NEW DELHI (AP) — India insisted Tuesday it will prosecute two Italian marines under its laws even though Italy is deeply unhappy with a decision to make use of a severe anti-piracy statute.
The marines have been held since 2012 in the deaths of two Indian fishermen. They were part of a military security team on an Italian cargo ship and fired at the fishermen, saying they mistook them for pirates. They are on bail pending trial, and are living and working at the Italian Embassy in Delhi.
External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said Indian laws will prevail in the case despite the strong objections from the Italian government.
India has ruled out the possibility of a death penalty, but the marines could face up to 10 years in prison.
Italian Premier Enrico Letta’s office issued a statement Monday blasting the Indian decision to proceed under the anti-piracy law as “absolutely out of proportion and incomprehensible.”
The case has sparked a bitter row between the two nations.
“We do understand that this process has not been something that our Italian friends are happy with. We are there to explain to them the situation, but the laws of our land will prevail in our courts as our authorities deemed fit,” Akbaruddin said.
India’s Supreme Court has scheduled a hearing on Feb. 18 to listen to the Italian and Indian arguments on the use of the anti-piracy law.