Italy’s foreign minister resigns over return of marines to India

"I am also standing down in solidarity with our two marines and their families"

From AFP:  Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said Tuesday he was resigning in protest after two Italian marines were ordered to return to India to face murder charges.

The two men were sent back on Friday over the killing of two Indian fisherman in February last year in a case that has strained ties between New Delhi and Rome.

"I resign in contention with the decision to send the marines back to India. The misgivings I expressed had no effect on the decision taken," Terzi told parliament during a special session dedicated to the contentious issue.

"For 40 years I have maintained, and still maintain, that the reputation of the country, the armed forces and Italian diplomacy, should be safeguarded," he said.

"I am also standing down in solidarity with our two marines and their families," Terzi told relatives of the pair who had gathered in parliament to hear the government report.

Outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti said in a note that he was "astonished" by Terzi’s resignation because he had not been told in advance, and said he would address parliament on the case on Wednesday.

Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, who are accused of shooting dead two fishermen off the coast of the Indian state of Kerala in February last year, were sent back to New Delhi on Friday after the government did an about-turn on whether they could stay in Italy.

The two, who were serving as security guards on an Italian oil tanker at the time of the shootings, claim they mistook the fishermen for pirates. . . .

Italy has insisted the pair should be prosecuted in their home country because the shootings involved an Italian-flagged vessel in international waters, but India says the killings took place in waters under its jurisdiction.  (photo: Europa)

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