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Italy recalls ambassador to India after delay in marines' trial

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[February 18, 2014]  NEW DELHI / ROME (Reuters)  Italy recalled its ambassador to India on Tuesday after the Supreme Court in New Delhi delayed a decision on a trial for two Italian marines accused of shooting two fishermen during a security operation in February 2012.

The Italian foreign ministry said it would recall its ambassador for consultations after the Supreme Court adjourned a hearing that had lasted only 10 minutes. The judge said India's government needed to produce more paperwork on whether the trial could be heard under anti-piracy legislation.

"Following the latest, unacceptable delay in proceedings by the Indian Supreme Court in considering the case of the marines Latorre and Girone and the manifest inability of the Indian judicial authorities to manage the case, Italy will continue and intensify its commitment to have its own rights as a sovereign state recognized in accordance with international law," the foreign ministry in Rome said in a statement.


The two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, were part of a military security team protecting the tanker Enrica Lexie from pirates. They are accused of shooting two fishermen after mistaking them for pirates off the southern Indian state of Kerala in February 2012.

The case has escalated into an increasingly bitter row between the two governments, with the European Union warning that future anti-piracy operations may be threatened if the dispute is not resolved quickly.

"This is the 26th postponement of this case and the sixth postponement on the issue of SUA," Staffan de Mistura, a special envoy of the Italian government who attended the hearing, told reporters outside the court. SUA is the acronym used to refer to the anti-piracy law.

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The hearing is due to recommence on February 24. It is not yet clear whether the court will hear arguments from both sides and pass an order on the same day.

(Reporting by Shyamantha Asokan and James Mackenzie; editing by Larry King)

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