The recent arrest and jailing of two Italian armed ship guards by Indian authorities drew a sharp protest from the Italian foreign ministry.
The prosecution followed a complaint accusing the duo of killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast Feb. 15. The guards were part of a six-member security detachment aboard the Enrica Lexie, an
Italian-flag oil tanker.
Italian foreign minister Giulio Terzi on Wednesday summoned Indian Ambassador to Rome Debrabata Saha to receive an official protest over New Delhi’s action.
The minister described the legal process as “unacceptable” and insisted Indian courts had no jurisdiction in the case, arguing that the incident took place in international waters.
“A cause for concern is that the current climate of tension and strong anti-Italian feeling aroused by this case in India could be prejudicial to the proper conduct of the legal proceedings now under way, the legitimacy of which Italy does not recognize given the lack of jurisdiction,” he said.
Terzi reiterated Italy’s stand that the deployment of armed guards on Italian-flag merchant ships was regulated by a specific Italian law and the case should be dealt with under the Italian legal system. “India’s handling of the case involving two Italian crewmembers could set a ‘dangerous precedent’ in combating piracy.”
Italy intensified its diplomatic campaign as a local court ordered the guards, who were arrested Feb. 19, be remanded in judicial custody until March 19.
The Indian foreign ministry earlier said the shooting on an unarmed fishing boat was totally “unjustified” and the ship’s crew should cooperate with the investigating agencies
Meanwhile, officials gave no indication when the Enrica Lexie, which is anchored near Cochin Port since Feb. 16, would be released.