Seoul, Mar 26: Expressing concern over the “nature of imprisonment” of two Italian marines in Kerala, Prime Minister Mario Monti today pressed his counterpart Manmohan Singh to find “some solution” to the issue that has become a major irritant in bilateral ties.
Mario took up the issue with Singh when they met here on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, over a month after the two marines were arrested for allegedly killing two Indian fishermen off the Kerala coast.
Singh explained to Monti that a judicial process was underway and the Italian leader said he respected it, Indian sources said.
Monti conveyed to Singh the “strong public interest” in his country to have “some solution” to the row, they said.
Sources said that the Italian Prime Minister made no specific request on the issue and conveyed to the Prime Minister that he respected the India's judicial process.
Monti wanted to know whether anything could be done within the framework, what law is allowed and what could be done in the future to take forward their concerns.
“Basically the nature of the imprisonment of their two personnel ... he (Monti) mentioned this in a roundabout way,” the sources said, adding that these exchanges took place directly between the two Prime Ministers.
The Italian Prime Minister was trying to convey the “very strong” public interest back home on the issue.
Monti conveyed the “very strong public interest that in having some kind of solution that does not amount to the kind of imprisonment that they are currently under in India,” the sources said.
Italy, India relations have been under stress since last month when Indian authorities arrested two Italian navy personnel over the killing of two Indian fishermen by marines aboard an Italian vessel ‘Enrica Lexie'.
Italy had been claiming jurisdiction over the case contending that the incident took place in International waters. The Indian authorities said they took action as the killing took place in the Indian territory.
The fishermen were killed on February 15 night when a navy security team on-board the Italian vessel ‘Enrica Lexie' opened fire on a boat mistaking it for a pirates vessel off the coast of Kerala.
A murder case had been registered against the crew, the first in a series of wrangles that saw India and Italy disagree over the admissibility of trying the marines under the Indian law.
More recently, Maoists took Italian tourist Claudio Colangelo and tour guide Paolo Bosusco hostage for taking photos of tribal women bathing in a river in Kandhamal district.
Recently, the Kerala high court observed that killing of two Indian fishermen by the Italian marines onboard a merchant ship was a “terrorist act” as they had fired at unarmed men.
The case has been adjourned to March 27.