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Diplomatic row: Italian envoy to India may be asked to leave, say sources

CNN-IBN
Mar 13, 2013 at 11:00am IST

New Delhi: The stand-off between India and Italy is fast snowballing into a diplomatic crisis. Two days after Italy refused to send its marines back to stand trial in Indian fishermen murder case, India is taking steps to regain lost ground. Sources have told CNN-IBN that the Italian ambassador to India Daniele Mancini will be asked to leave.

CNN-IBN has learned that the final decision to expel the Italian envoy will be taken and formalised within a week. All this even as MPs are set to bring up the issue in Parliament on Wednesday. This after the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday alleged diplomatic collusion between Delhi and Rome.

ALSO SEE India demands marines be sent back, says Italy should 'honour commitment made to SC'

The BJP will move a Calling Attention Motion on Wednesday in both Houses of Parliament demanding answers from the government. The opposition party said the diplomatic tussle is a contempt of the Supreme Court.

Joining the BJP, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he would take up the issue with the External Affairs Ministry. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had termed the Italian government's decision as unacceptable.

Italy maintained that the incident occurred in international waters and has been trying to get the two marines - Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone - tried in Italian courts, but India contended the shooting occurred in its own territory.

The government on Tuesday urged Italy to "honour the commitment" made to the Supreme Court of India and brushed away its suggestion of arbitration to resolve the issue. "Italy is obliged to ensure that the marines return to India as per their assurance. He (Italian Ambassador) took note of our position and said he would convey that to Rome," Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai said after meeting the Italian envoy on Tuesday evening.

Supreme Court had given them permission to stay out of the country only till March 22. The two marines are facing trial for killing two fishermen off the Kerala coast in February 2012, mistaking them for pirates.

Big questions:

- Why was the envoy's guarantee accepted when he enjoys immunity from contempt of court?

- Why didn't Centre oppose marines' plea to return home?

- Will the Supreme Court take steps to enforce Italy's commitments made to it?

- Will the impasse affect the AgustaWestland chopper deal probe underway in Italy?

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