Italian marines row: UN chief's position remains unchanged
United Nations, Jan 6: The ongoing Italian marines row with India has not generated any new response from the United Nations, with the spokesperson for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon saying the position of the UN chief over the issue remains unchanged.
Ban's spokesperson Stephane Dujarric was asked if there has been any recent involvement by the Secretary-General in the dispute between India and Italy or whether it is still considered a bilateral dispute.
"I have nothing to add to what he (UN chief) has already said on the issue," Dujarric told reporters yesterday. Ban has maintained that the case of two Italian marines being tried in India for killing two fishermen should be resolved bilaterally.
"It's better for the question to be addressed bilaterally, rather than with the involvement of the UN," Ban was quoted as saying by Italian news agency ANSA last year. Ban had expressed concern that the "longstanding" matter between Italy and India "remains unresolved" and was prompting tensions between two "friendly and important" UN members.
Ban's spokesperson had said last year that the UN chief feels it is important that India and Italy "seek to come to a reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution" over the issue. One of the two Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre has undergone a heart surgery in Milan to correct a cardiac anomaly, just days before his scheduled return to India.
He has been in Italy after India's Supreme Court allowed him to go to his home country on September 12 for four months for medical treatment and recovery following a stroke he suffered in India on August 31. Latorre had then sought an extension of his stay citing his heart surgery.
The Supreme Court had last month refused the pleas of Latorre pleas seeking extension of his stay in Italy on health grounds and that of his fellow marine co-accused Marine Salvatore Girone the permission to travel there for Christmas, saying they cannot get such a "leeway".
The two Italian marines, accused of killing two fishermen off Kerala in 2012, maintain that they fired at them after mistaking them for pirates while guarding an Italian oil tanker. The marines had been living in the Italian embassy in New Delhi since then waiting to be tried, and were not supposed to leave the country. The situation has led to tense relations between India and Italy, which says that India has no jurisdiction in the case.