Irked Italy: marine too ill to return to India

Irked Italy: marine too ill to return to India

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ROME (AP) — Diplomatic tensions between Italy and India are rising after Italy said a marine who suffered a stroke while detained in India for a 2012 shooting death was too ill to be sent back there.

Two Italian ministers said Wednesday that the marine, who was allowed to return from India earlier this year for treatment, still needs medical care in Italy, deepening the dispute over the shooting of two Indian fishermen.

Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said "conditions aren't there" for Massimiliano Latorre to return to India as Indian authorities demand. Latorre is one of two Italian marines who were detained by India while assigned to anti-piracy duty aboard an Italian cargo ship.

The Italians have said the fishermen were mistaken for pirates. Rome says the shooting occurred in international waters, while India says it happened in its territorial waters.

On Tuesday India's Supreme Court refused to extend Latorre's leave and denied holiday leave to the other marine, Salvatore Girone.

Saying "inalienable principles of international sovereignty" are at stake, Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni recalled Italy's ambassador to "express Italy's irritation and dissatisfaction" and to decide its next steps.

He told Italian state TV Italy might seek international arbitration.

Nearly three years after the shooting, no formal charges have been lodged. Indian authorities say charges cannot be filed without both men being in India and blame uncertainty over what law to use to prosecute them for the delays. Gentiloni called those delays "incredible."

Both ministers stopped short of saying the ailing marine won't go back in January after his leave ends, but made clear that if his health warrants more treatment, Latorre will stay in Italy. Italian news reports say he might need heart surgery soon.


Associated Press writer Nirmala George contributed from New Delhi.

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