Italy has urged the Indian Supreme Court to expedite a decision on its appeal to quash the trial of two Italian ship guards accused of killing Indian fishermen.
“It is with great perplexity and concern that the Italian government notes the Supreme Court still has not ruled on the appeal lodged by Italy,” the Italian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Michele Valensise, Italian Foreign Ministry secretary general, on Thursday summoned Indian Ambassador to Rome Debrabata Saha to receive an official protest over lengthy delays in the court ruling. The Italian official insisted the court issue an order before Christmas.
The secretary general said the Italian government is concerned over “the negative consequences that the failure to recognize the jurisdiction of the State to send the military would have on the international engagement in the fight against piracy on the high seas.”
The legal action followed a complaint charging the guards with killing two fishermen off India’s southern Kerala coast Feb. 15. The duo was part of a six-member security detachment aboard the Enrica Lexie, an Italian-flag oil tanker. The 2008-built ship, which had 34 crewmembers, including 19 Indians, was sailing from Singapore to Egypt.
Italy earlier argued that the guards had fired warning shots before targeting the fishing trawler, which they mistook for a pirate vessel. But Indian authorities rejected such claims, stating fishermen were unarmed and could not have been mistaken for pirates.
The incident triggered vigorous public outcry in India, forcing the administration to arrest the armed guards and prosecute them in a local court amid intense diplomatic pressure from Italy.