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MEA sees red at Ferrari's show of support for Italian marines

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Oct 26, 2012 at 01:38pm IST

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New Delhi: The Ferrari team taking part in the 2012 Formula 1 Airtel Indian Grand Prix at Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida near Delhi from October 26-28 is planning to race with the Italian naval ensign to protest against the arrest and trial of the two Italian marines who shot and killed fishermen off the coast of Kerala in February. The Ministry of External Affairs though is not amused and has asked not to mix sports with politics.

MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin issued a statement on Friday saying the move by the Ferrari team, which is from Italy and has two drivers - Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa - taking part in the race, could be seen as insensitive by the families of the dead fishermen. "Using sporting events to promote causes which are not of a sporting nature is not in keeping with the spirit of any sport," said Akbaruddin.

Ferrari justified its decision to carry the flag of the Italian Navy. "Scuderia Ferrari will carry the flag of the Italian Navy on the cars driven by Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa in this weekend's Indian Grand Prix. In doing so, Ferrari pays tribute to one of the outstanding entities of our country, also in the hope that the Indian and Italian authorities will soon find a solution to the situation currently involving two sailors from the Italian Navy," Ferrari said on its website.

Two fishermen from Kerala - Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Bi - were killed on February 15 when Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone on board an Italian ship Enrica Lexie allegedly opened fire on a fishing boat apparently mistaking them for pirates.

Latorre and Girone were detained by Kerala Police on February 19 and the issue led to a diplomatic row between India and Italy. The duo was jailed in Thiruvananthapuram and granted bail only in June. However, the court while granting Latorre and Girone bail also put a condition that the duo cannot leave India until the trial was over.

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