Rome harshly criticized an Indian decision to try two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen under an anti-piracy and anti-terrorism act, in a case that has strained relations between the two countries.
Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone were part of a military security team protecting a cargo ship off the coast of the southern state of Kerala.
The marines said that they thought the two fishermen were pirates and fired shots to warn them off in February 2012. The case has become a sensitive political issue in both countries.
In India, supporters of harsh penalties for the marines have marched on the streets, while in Rome the lights illuminating the Colosseum were turned off last year in a protest demanding that the two be allowed to return home.
On Friday, India’s attorney general said the Italians would be tried under an anti-piracy and anti-terrorism act that provides for capital punishment, but that death sentences would be excluded as a possible sentence.
Italy’s justice minister said the Rome government would fight the use of the law in all ways possible.
“Certain indications that come from New Delhi about the legal proceedings against our marines leave me dumbfounded and outraged,” Italian Justice Minister Emma Bonino said in a statement
She added that a decision to use the treaty would be fought in court “in the strongest manner”
“Our commitment to bring home Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone is stronger than ever,” she said.
Charges have yet to be filed against the two marines, partly due to confusion as to what law the men should be prosecuted under. They are on bail but cannot leave India.