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Italy's FM Resigns Over Return of Accused Italian Marines to India

  • VOA News

Italian marines Salvatore Girone (L) and Massimiliano Latorre arrive at a military prosecutor's office in Rome, March 20, 2013.
Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said he is resigning from his post because he does not agree with his government's decision to send two Italian marines back to India to face murder charges.

Terzi told Italy's parliament Tuesday that his misgivings about the decision were ignored, so he felt he could no longer continue to serve as foreign minister.

On Friday, the Italian government sent back the men, who are accused of fatally shooting two Indian fishermen off the coast of southwestern India early last year.

Last month, New Delhi granted Rome's request that the marines be allowed to return to Italy to vote in its national elections, provided that they would return to India.

Italy went back on that promise, however, prompting the Indian government to respond with outrage, even going so far as barring Italy's ambassador from leaving the country.

Rome again change its mind after receiving New Delhi's assurances that the accused would not face the death penalty.

The two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, were part of a military security team on board a cargo ship when they shot and killed the two Indian fishermen they allegedly mistook for pirates.

Italy said the shooting occurred in international waters, and that Rome should hear the case. India insisted the ship was in its territorial waters off its southern state of Kerala, though, and that New Delhi therefore had jurisdiction.