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ITALIAN MARINES: we will never give up on them, says De Mistura

“We are ready and determined to go as high as possible. We will never give up on our servicemen”. This is a “fundamental fact, it’s happened to us today, tomorrow it could happen to anyone, even the Indians themselves who have military abroad”. This was the comment from Under-Secretary Staffan De Mistura during the customary weekly press briefing at the foreign ministry in Rome, in the course of which Minister Terzi’s spokesperson Giuseppe Manzo laid out the minister’s international agenda and gave an update on the kidnapping of Italian national Paolo Bosusco, who is still being held by Maoist rebels in India. The man has reported to be in good condition. Manzo also reported that Italian Ambassador Giacomo Sanfelice had spoken with the Chief Minister of Orissa, who had “confirmed the Indian authorities’ maximum commitment” to securing the release of Bosusco. Manzo also added that Italy had reiterated that “the absolute priority of the hostage’s safety”.

Under-Secretary De Mistura, who is preparing to leave again for India, and will be in Kerala on 30 March when the Indian authorities announce their ruling, said we must not to have too many illusions, but “neither should they have too many illusions”, and in the case they decided that “the jurisdiction is theirs, we will take that ruling and put it to debate”. De Mistura said that “we will not rest easy until we have brought our marines home”. The Under-Secretary specified that the High Court of Kerala had decided to postpone its ruling on jurisdiction in an effort “to better prepare for a ruling”, reiterating that “their decision on jurisdiction is very important to us”. De Mistura pointed out that “they take very seriously the fact that we take the question very seriously”. In any case, “we must keep our wits about us”.

“If the ballistics report shows that the ammunition is Italian, our strategy is clear”, De Mistura asserted, “the marines were defending an Italian ship and there were also 19 Indian marines on board”. “There was and still is a need for deterrence” against acts of piracy, and for that reason “we want our foreign-deployed troops judged in our country”. According to De Mistura, the presence in India of our Carabinieri “is helping us to ascertain whether the ballistics study has been done properly”. But in his opinion, “there have been no tricks”. At most there could be some “elements of technical weakness”. The Under-Secretary supposed that the Indian authorities were already in possession of the ballistics results and that the delays – also for the jurisdiction ruling – were somehow justified by the fact that Indian justice “finds itself on complicated terrain since there are not many precedents”.

“Unacceptable”, moreover, is the situation of the ship the Enrica Lexie, which is still being detained in the Indian port with four other Italian marines on board, in addition to the other two detainees. De Mistura recalled that Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola was leaving today for India, first to Trivandrum “to visit our marines and offer support”, and then to New Delhi to meet with his counterpart and pursue efforts toward a solution to the affair. De Mistura himself will be making “targeted, frequent and pressing” visits from now on. The Under-Secretary then reiterated that he would convey to the Indian authorities our “sadness for the death of the two fishermen” and the promise that “we will not forget about them”.

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