It’s party time for the two Italian marines, who have allegedly killed two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast.
The duo - Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone - currently put up at the Italian Embassy here, attended a birthday party on Saturday at the Vatican Embassy here. The occasion was the 50th birthday party of Monseigneur Gian Franco, Counsellor at the Vatican Embassy.
Along with the two marines, Italian Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini and a prominent political leader of the ruling party in Italy were also present from the Italian side. The guest list also included ambassadors from other countries. From the Indian side, Delhi Archbishop Anil J Couto of the Catholic Diocese; Christy Fernandes, secretary to former President Pratibha Patil; and his wife attended the party.
There were around 50 guests and the menu included beer, wine and, of course, Italian food.
The duo were seen freely mingling with the guests shaking hands with them, according to a source who attended the party. “They were seen puffing on cigarettes frequently,’’ said the source. In fact, it is not for the first time that the accused Italian marines have visited the Vatican Embassy. The duo had been regularly attending the Sunday Mass at the Vatican parish. “They have also attended the Easter Mass at the Chapel at the Vatican Embassy. And every time, they were accompanied by Italian Ambassador Mancini,’’ said another source.
Interestingly, these frequent visits to the Vatican Embassy are happening when the involvement of the Catholic Church in the whole matter is already a controversy. Secret visits by priests from Rome to meet the victims’ families and the resultant withdrawal of case by the family and the flip-flops by a powerful Cardinal from Kerala on the issue has made the “Catholic diplomacy” quite suspicious.
“The way the duo are being paraded by the Italian Ambassador and the manner in which the Catholic establishment is openly flirting with the accused is quite embarrassing,’’ said a diplomat who also attended the birthday party. Incidentally, he too is a Catholic.
The Italian Government had agreed to send the marines back to India after long diplomatic tussles after its initial refusal.