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Shooting of Indian fishermen: Italy's Foreign Minister Terzi arrives on two-day visit
New Delhi, February 28, 2012
Italy's Foreign Minister Giulio Maria Terzi di Sant’ Agata arrived here today on a two-day official visit during which he will make efforts to end the impasse between the two countries over the killing of two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala by Italian naval guards on board an Italian merchant vessel Enrica Lexie on February 15.
Terzi's visit came after several days of efforts by Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura, who held talks with Indian officials in Delhi and also met Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy during a visit to Kochi to work out a diplomatic solution to end the stalemate.
Official sources here indicated that the visit was scheduled much before the shooting incident and was being made at the invitation of External Affairs Minister S M Krishna.
An official statement from the Ministry of External Affairs pointed out that this was the first high level visit from Italy since the new government was formed in that country in November 2011.
Terzi held a meeting with Union Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma this morning and was due to interact with CEOs of Indian companies later before going in for a meeting with Krishna. The two Ministers are slated to have a joint interaction with the media after their talks, which will cover bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest.
The two Indian fishermen, identified as Ajesh Binki, 25, from Tamil Nadu and Gelestine, 45, from Kerala were allegedly shot dead by the Italian naval guards on the vessel off the coast of Kerala after mistaking them for pirates.
While the Kerala police is insisting that the two arrested marines should be tried under Indian laws because the incident happened in Indian jurisdiction, Italy has been saying that the incident happened in international waters and that the two Italian men could not be proceeded against in India.
The two marines, Latorre Massimillano and Salvatore Girone, have been charged with murder and are currently in police custody. Last week, a court in Kochi allowed Italian officials to remain present during a ballistic examination of the weapons allegedly used in the shooting.
Soon after the incident, Krishna had told Terzi on the telephone that the law should be allowed to take its course in the matter.
He made it clear to the Italian minister that the personnel on board Enrica Lexie, particularly the captain of the ship and the two concerned men involved in the shooting, should fully cooperate with the Indian investigating authorities. He hoped the issue would be satisfactorily resolved.