Italian Marines: Subramanian Swamy steals credit from Sonia

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Sonia Gandhi and Subramanian Swamy
New Delhi, March 22: It is a victory for India as the two Italian Marines - Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone - have been sent back to the country to face the court trials in connection with the murder case of Kerala fishermen.

Congress leaders hailed its President Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for pressurising Italy to change their decision on the two Marines. However, it seems that Mrs Gandhi may lose the limelight to Janata Party supremo Subramanian Swamy.

Despite having different arguments, it is believed that Italy was forced to reverse its decision on Marines following the Supreme Court's move of barring the Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving the country.

It was neither Mrs Gandhi nor the government but Swamy who had moved the original Contempt against the Italian ambassador to India in the apex court.

The court had restrained the ambassador from leaving the country until the two marines return to India. Hence, Swamy has been given the real credit for this victory of the country.

Italy's previous decision had triggered diplomatic stand off between India and Italy. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had termed the move as "unacceptable" and also asserted that the issue will be taken up with that country.

Few sections of Italian media, however, have given credit to Mrs Gandhi for taking a tough stand and helping Indian government get back the marines to face trial. But, European Union too was following the issue closely, and had asked Italy in strong words to do the "right things" and send back the marines to India.

An official statement by the government of Italy reads, "The two sailor will start tonight for India."

"In light of the assurances received, the Government has considered the opportunity, in the interests of Fusiliers Marina, to maintain the commitment made at the permission to participate in the vote back in India by March 22," the statement said. "The marines agreed to this decision," it added.

India had withhold posting of its Ambassador-designate Basant Kumar Gupta to Rome and the Indian government had said further steps will be taken after completion of the review of bilateral ties with Italy.

The Italian government, which had given an undertaking before the court that the marines will be sent back, had on March 11 sent a note verbale to the Indian government informing it that the two will not be sent back.

On Jan 18, the apex court had turned down the Italian government's plea that the Indian courts had no jurisdiction in the case and had held that the two marines should be tried a special court constituted by the Centre. It had directed that the two be shifted to Delhi and would remain under it's 'custody' till the special court is set up.

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