India PM warns of 'consequences' over Italian marines charged with murder

India PM warns of 'consequences' over Italian marines charged with murder

NEW DELHI - Agence France-Presse
India PM warns of consequences over Italian marines charged with murder

Italian Ambassador to India Daniele Mancini (L) exits the Ministry of External Affairs offices in New Delhi on March 12, 2013. Mancini was summoned to the ministry following Italy's refusal to return two marines facing trial in India for the killing of two fishermen. AFP PHOTO/ Prakash SINGH

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned Italy on Wednesday that there would be "consequences" unless it returned two of its marines who skipped bail while on trial for murder in India.

Singh told MPs that his government had told Italian authorities to "respect the undertakings they have given" that the pair would return to India after being allowed to return home to vote in Italy's recent general election.

"If they do not keep their word there will be consequences for our relations with Italy," Singh said amid reports that Italy's ambassador could be expelled.

India demands Italy return marines charged with murder

India summoned the Italian ambassador March.12 to demand that Rome hand over two of its marines facing trial for the killing of two fishermen, an Indian foreign ministry statement said.

The marines are accused of shooting dead two fishermen off India's southwestern coast in February last year, when their fishing boat came close to the Italian oil tanker they were guarding.

The marines said that they mistook the fishermen near the port of Kochi for pirates. They were granted leave by India's top court to return home for four weeks in order to vote in the February 24-25 national elections.

India's foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai met with the Italian ambassador Daniele Mancini and said Rome "was obliged to ensure their return to India", a day after officials said that the men would not be coming back to Delhi.

India's demand was conveyed to Mancini in the "strongest terms," the statement issued by the foreign ministry said.

The marines were allowed to go home last month by India's Supreme Court, after Italy gave an undertaking that they would return to face trial once their leave expired at the end of March.