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Mar 12, 2013 at 05:06pm IST

Italian marines say they're 'happy'; Govt to consult A-G over Italy's decision

New Delhi: The Indian government has reacted to Italy's decision of not sending the Italian marines charged with the murder of two Kerala fishermen back to India. Government sources say the sanctity of sovereign guarantees has been violated by Italy.

Indian government sources have said that the original decision to send the marines to Italy to vote in the elections was the Supreme Court's and not the government's. As a first step, India will consult the government lawyer, the Attorney General.

ALSO SEE Italy says marines won't return; did India let them get away with murder?

Government sources say the Supreme Court will be disappointed with Italy's decision not to send the marines back. Sources have indicated they're not keen on Italy's offer of a 'judicial settlement'. The two Italian marines in a Kerala jail were allowed to go to Italy to vote on the promise that they would be sent back.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said he will go through Italy's letter before responding. "Let me look at the letter and we will respond then. It was a Supreme Court decision but it's also a matter of our countries' collective decision. We cannot throw the ball in their court. Let's see what they have to say and what's their reasoning, after all they came back the last time," Khurshid said.

ALSO SEE Two marines charged for killing Kerala fishermen won't return to India, says Italy

The Bharatiya Janata Party called Italy's decision a 'bluff'. "It's a betrayal, it's a bluff by the Italian government, it is a bluff to the Supreme Court which allowed them to go abroad on considerations," BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said.

Meanwhile, the Italian media has quoted the two marines as saying that they are happy to remain in Italy and go back to work. The marine Salvatore Latorre has told the Italian news agency ANSA, "I thank the president of the republic, all institutions, the government and the Italian people who have always supported us with a great number of postcards that never made us feel alone. I also thank all those who have supported us through social networks."

On Monday evening, the Italian government made it clear that it doesn't intend to send back the two marines. The marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, had been allowed to travel to Italy to vote in the elections. In its Foreign Ministry's statement, Italy said that the Indian trial itself was illegal. The statement said, "Italy has always argued that the Indian authorities have violated their obligations under international law."

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