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MARINES: Kerala Court ruling postponed

The High Court in Kerala has postponed its decision on the Italian appeal over jurisdiction in the case of the two Italian marines arrested in India. The Italian Defence Minister, Giampiero Di Paola, has met his Indian counterpart, A.K. Antony, in New Delhi. Under-Secretary Staffan De Mistura is returning to the Indian capital , for his second visit since the one from 22 February to 14 March.

Judge P.S. Gopinathan will rule on the Italian appeal. He has asked the state of Kerala to submit a document on Monday 2 April summing up the grounds, in its view, for applying Indian law to the incident, which took place in international waters.

“Amicable” solution

The discussion in New Delhi between Italian Defence Minister Giampiero Di Paola and his Indian counterpart, A.K. Antony, focused entirely on the case of the two marines. Both parties agreed that the issue is not strictly within defence ministry remit. It must now be handled at a higher level, as evidenced by the bilateral meeting between the two premiers, Mario Monti and Manmohan Singh, on Monday 26 March 2012 in the margins of the nuclear security summit in Seoul.

During their 40-minute meeting, Di Paola and Antony noted that their two countries have the utmost respect for men and women in uniform, but that in both, the judiciary acts in full autonomy with respect to the government. The two ministers also agreed that “an amicable solution” can be found, as the two prime ministers hoped during their meeting in South Korea.

Di Paolo reminded Antony that the Italian position is based on the application of the international rules governing the incident, which involved the Enrica Lexie oil tanker. And these rules indicate that Italy has jurisdiction. Minister Di Paolo had arrived in New Delhi along with a delegation from Trivandrum, the town in the southern state of Kerala where the two marines, whom he met, are in prison. He is leaving India today, 30 March.

De Mistura returns to New Delhi

Under-Secretary Staffan De Mistura is returning to New Delhi to follow the case at first hand and take part in a series of institutional meetings in the capital. On Monday 2 April will be heading for Trivandrum, where the marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, are being held in a special section of the town’s central prison. This is Under-Secretary De Mistura’s second visit, after the one from 22 February to 14 March.

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