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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Crisis With Italy

 The two Italian marines –
Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone – were sent to jail in Kerala for the
killing of the two fishermen.
 Italy has
called this imprisonment “unacceptable”.
On the 15th of February,
when the Italian tanker Enrica Lexie’s guards opened fire and killed two
fishermen from Kerala, it triggered a diplomatic row between India and Italy.  The reason for killing: Mistaken
identity.  The two marines stationed on
the tanker mistook the two fishermen for pirates and shot them.  This happened on the waters of kollam coast in
Kerala.  Last year, when the crew of the
Italian merchant ship was taken hostage by the Somali pirates, the owner of the
tanker had to pay a heavy sum of money to release the crew, and since then all
the Italian merchant ships have armed guards – most army personnel — to
protect them from the pirates operating in the international waters.
 The investigating parties from
both sides are engaged in a war of words because the version from both sides
differs in terms of time of the shooting and the position of the ships from
both the countries.
  Indian coast guards
who rushed to the site say that the ship was 32 nautical miles off the coast of
kollam when the Italian tanker ran into them and made that cold-blooded
killing.
 The UNCLOS (United Nation
Convention of the Law of the Sea) says that the territorial waters of a country
are around 12 nautical miles, and they have jurisdiction over that vast body of
waters.
 A further 12 nautical miles
called ‘contiguous zone’ is added with the jurisdiction. The article 109, according
to UNCLOS, says in this zone countries can conduct investigations and enforce
their laws.
  The Italian tanker and the
Indian fishermen met in this zone on that fateful day.
 Armed with the article 109, Indian authorities
rounded up the Italian tanker and arrested the two marines who were responsible
for killing.
  But, Italy says that the case should be
handled by them; since their ship was in the International waters (not true)
and that the two personnel (marines) involved come under immunity against
arrest because the Italian law conforms to the UN anti-piracy policy.
 Immediately after this row, Italy had
dispatched its deputy foreign minister, Staffan De Mistura, to plead and deal
with the unfortunate situation.
 India, on the other hand, is adamant because the
two personnel acted on their own without the consent of their captain and that
the tanker did not report the killings; only after the Indian coast guard intercepted
them and took them to
kochi,
they found out about the killings.
  Moreover,
the Italian tanker did not fire any warning shots or perform any evasive
maneuvers to ascertain whether the large boat carrying the fishermen were
indeed pirates.
 Moreover, the fishermen
had no weapons and, at the time of the incident they were asleep.
 An Indian officer who was present at the scene
said, “It seemed as though the Italian crew acted in panic or in complete
disarray”.
 Another interesting
observation the Indian Officer made was that the Italians used flash lights
when it was approached by an Indian vessel.
 On Sunday, the Italian foreign
minister spoke to Saurabh Kumar, the Indian embassy’s Charge D’affaires, and
expressed deep concern about the Indian authorities’ decision to send the two
marines to jail in
Trivandrum,
Kerala.
 He said such measures are unacceptable
given the status of the servicemen and that those two marines should be moved somewhere
more adequate.
 
 This incident is sure to damage
the relationship between
India
and
Italy.
 Indio-Italian bilateral trade has
touched 17 billion, and it is expected to rise with deeper engagement between
these two countries.
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