Foreign Minister Mr SM Krishna, who will be in Kerala today to inaugurate a passport centre, is likely to meet Kerala Chief Minister Mr Oommen Chandy and discuss the controversy over the trial of two Italian marines. The marines, Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Gironi, were arrested for allegedly gunning down the two fishermen of Kerala off Kollam coast on February 15 aboard MV Enrica Lexie en route from Dubai to Singapore misconstruing them for Somalian pirates.
Notwithstanding the pressure being mounted by Italy, Mr Chandy has ruled out transfer of two Italian marines to their home country for trial. Mr Chandy made it clear that the crime was committed in Indian waters and that the two marines face Indian law.
"Our stand is very clear, very open. The two soldiers of Italy committed a crime within the purview of Indian law. They have to face this trial. That is our stand," he said. His statement comes at a time when Italy has been building pressure on the Centre as well as the state government for transfer of the two marines to Italy for trial. Italian Defence Minister Mr Giam Paolo di Paolo met Mr Chandy on 29 March to press this issue.
Italian counsel has approached Kerala High Court seeking quashing of the FIR against the marines. Chandy underlined that the Indian judiciary is "very fair, very open and very independent" and the accused can seek justice in this country. Asked what he would do if the Centre tries to influence the state government on diplomatic grounds, the Chief Minister made it clear that he would not change his stand.
He said the central government was extending full support to the state. At the same time, Mr Chandy said Italy is a friendly country and he wanted the diplomatic relations to continue. Relations between India and Italy have been strained since the arrest of the two marines.