Italy regrets fishermen killing, but row persists (Second Lead)

February 22nd, 2012 - 4:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 22 (IANS) India and Italy Wednesday failed to resolve their row over the killing of two Indian fishermen, with Rome reiterating the deaths took place in international waters and New Delhi insisting that the two arrested Italian Marines will face Indian law.After holding talks with Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura voiced “terrible sadness” over the Feb 15 killing of the fishermen off Kerala.

“We do acknowledge and recognize that two Indian fishermen died. No one doubts it, and it is terribly sad,” de Mistura told reporters here, ahead of his visit to Kerala where the Marines are in custody.

The Italian Marines on board an Italian ship who fired at the fishermen thinking they were pirates now face murder charge.

De Mistura said the incident took place in international waters “and investigation will ascertain the exact position” of the Italian ship.

“We are taking it seriously. We are definitely expressing terrible sadness and regret over the loss of lives.

“Two Indian fishermen did die and they belonged to poor families of Kerala,” he added.

Kaur indicated the talks had failed to resolve the India-Italy dispute.

“We will certainly go by our law,” she said. “As far as the law point is (concerned), they have their interpretation and we have our interpretation.”

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi is also set to visit India for further talks.

Italy says the incident took place in international waters and the Marines cannot be tried in Indian courts. New Delhi contests both the claims.

Kaur said the Italian Marines “are on Indian soil” and “we have taken note of what (de Mistura) said”.

The Italian ship, Enrica Lexie, is now berthed in Kochi. Marines Salvatore Girone and Latorre Massimillano were arrested Sunday on Kerala soil.

Italy says the presence of armed naval personnel on board a merchant ship flying the Italian flag is ruled by a specific Italian law in keeping with UN resolutions regarding the war on piracy.

A Kerala court has issued a warrant to search the Italian ship to seize the gun that killed the Indians.

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