x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

India bans Italian ambassador from leaving the country

India's Supreme Court has barred Italy's ambassador from leaving the country and demanded that he explain why his country is refusing to return two Italian marines to stand trial for the killing of two Indian fishermen.

NEW DELHI // India's Supreme Court barred Italy's ambassador from leaving the country yesterday and demanded that he explain why his country is refusing to return two Italian marines to stand trial for the killing of two Indian fishermen, a government official said.

The court had allowed the marines to go home in February to vote in national elections and to celebrate Easter with a written promise from Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini that they would return to stand trial. Italy announced Monday that it would not send them back.

The dispute has damaged relations. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said there would be consequences if Italy does not back down.

Indian Foreign Minister Salman Kurshid said the matter "will be treated with urgency and it will be treated with determination to ensure that we don't suffer".

Mr Kurshid said the government would wait for the Supreme Court to make a ruling.

The court demanded yesterday that Italy explain why it was reneging on its promise, banned Mr Mancini from leaving India without its permission and insisted he file his response by Monday.

The marines, Massimilian Latorre and Salvatore Girone, were part of a military security team aboard a cargo ship when they opened fire on a fishing boat in February last year, killing the two fishermen. The marines said they mistook the boat for a pirate craft.

Italy maintains that the shooting occurred in international waters and that Rome should have jurisdiction. India says the ship was in Indian territorial waters.