NEW DELHI: Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti called up Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Wednesday to discuss the issue regarding the two detained Italian marines, accused of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast. However, the two versions of the telephonic call put out by Italy and India have a lot of discrepancies.
India said that both leaders “reaffirmed the importance of deepening relations between India and Italy and agreed that the issues arisen following the incident should be solved amicably in accordance with law and in the spirit of friendship that characterises relations between the two countries.” Monti had also condoled the death of the two fishermen and expressed regret. The two leaders are also scheduled to meet on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul.
However, media reports from Rome gave a different version to the telephonic call. Monti, who has been under political and public pressure in this case, had reportedly warned Singh that the “attitude from the Indian side, which was not in line with international law”, risks “creating precedent for international peacekeeping and anti-piracy missions”. The AFP quoted an Italian government statement, in which Monti told Singh, “The alleged incident -- the circumstances of which still have to be clarified -- occurred in international waters and jursidiction is therefore only Italian”.
As per the Italian version, Singh assured Monti that he would look into the possibility of “a transfer of the two marines from prison to a place of custody more suited to their status.” There was no official reaction from India’s Ministry of External Affairs on the disparity between the two versions.
Meanwhile, European Union has stepped into the matter upon request of Italy. “Following the request of Italy, we are now undertaking contacts that are aimed at contributing to finding a satisfactory solution for this case as soon as possible,” a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said. India also said that Italy claiming immunity for Vessel Protection Deployments - as the two Italian naval personnel were posted on a oil tanker - is not widely recognised in Italian law.