SC says Italian envoy is petitioner in marines row

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New Delhi, Mar 18: The Supreme Court said on Monday that Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini is a petitioner in the marines case and therefore cannot claim "any immunity".

The apex court has already barred Mancini from leaving the country as the Italian government on Mar 11 refused to send Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre to India. Both of them were supposed to stand trial here for shooting dead two fishermen off the Kerala coast last year.

Last month, Girone and Latorre were allowed to visit Italy so that they could cast their votes in the elections held on Feb 24 and 25. Before the duo left, Mancini assured the Supreme Court that they will come back to India.

On Monday, a bench of the apex court said: "We respected the undertaking (given by the Ambassador) and we allowed them (marines) to go for four weeks which will end on Mar 22. There is still time for them to come. Strictly speaking they have not still violated our order."

The bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir made it clear to senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who was appearing for the Republic of Italy and Mancini, that the Italian ambassador is a petitioner in the matter.

Italian Marines Daniele Mancini

"We are concerned with Daniele Mancini. What is your intention Mr Daniele Mancini? ... Are you going to comply with this order? We are not concerned with anything else," the bench stressed.

When Rohatgi pointed out that Mancini has diplomatic immunity, the court said: "The person who has come to this court as petitioner, we don't think he has any immunity."

The bench that also comprises justices A R Dave and Ranjana Prakash Desai told Rohatgi: "We don't go by anything. He (Mancini) has given the undertaking. We are not so naive."

The court said that its "interim order passed on Mar 14 directing Mancini not to leave India without the permission of this court is extended till further orders."

The court directed that "all authorities in the country shall take appropriate steps" in this connection. The next hearing has been scheduled for Apr 2.

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