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Italian Marines, Defence Minister: “They’re in good shape” – Departure authorised for the Lexie

Italian Defence Minister Giampaolo Di Paola met today with the two Italian marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, being held at the Trivandrum prison in Kerala, and found them “in good shape”. In the meantime, the High Court of Kerala approved the departure of oil tanker the “Enrica Lexie” (which could sail in the next few days), but only after fulfilling a series of conditions, including payment of an obligatory deposit. The situation came to a head after a statement by Under-Secretary De Mistura describing the situation as “unacceptable”. De Mistura is preparing to leave once again for India, to be there for the 30 March announcement of the Indian judiciary authorities’ ruling on the two marines.

“I met with Salvatore and Massimiliano”, the minister reported, according to his entourage, “and I found them in good shape and proud to be Navy sharpshooters”. “I also appreciated the respect”, Di Paola stressed, “from the men in Indian uniforms with whom I came into contact”. During his visit to the capital of Kerala, his before going on to New Delhi, Di Paola had a long and cordial meeting with Chief Minister of State Oommen Chandy, to whom he expressed deep regret for the incident and presented condolences to the families of the fishermen killed. During a private bilateral meeting, the Italian minister also reiterated Italy’s position to Chandy. Given that the incident took place in international waters, the only correct judiciary action would be through the application of international treaties. “Compliance with these treaties”, Di Paola asserted, “would serve everyone’s interests, since India and Italy are allies in combating piracy”.

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