Indian media: India 'embarrassed' by Italy marines move

Italian marines Latore Massimiliano, left and Salvatore Girone arrive to appear before a court in Kollam in southern Kerala state, India, Monday, April 30, 2012. Italy wants the marines to be tried at home

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India's media says Rome's decision not to send back two Italian marines charged with the murder of two fishermen in Kerala is an embarrassment for the Indian government.

On Tuesday, India summoned the Italian ambassador in Delhi and said Italy's action was "unacceptable".

Italy for its part has asked India to set up a meeting of diplomats in order to reach "an amicable solution".

The marines are accused of shooting the fishermen dead in February 2012.

They did so after allegedly mistaking them for pirates.

The Hindu said Italy's refusal to send back Massimilian Latorre and Salvatore Girone "may win the new Italian government brownie points at home but is conduct unbecoming of a responsible nation".

The newspaper said the incident was "another embarrassment" for the ruling Congress party-led government "which stands exposed for allowing itself to be taken for a ride so easily by a foreign government".

'Black mark'

The Times of India said it "required an appalling degree of naiveté on part of Indian institutions to let the marines go, in the fond belief that the Italians would send them back".

"In the event there's little that New Delhi can do now. At best it can make a show of diplomatic anger and expel the Italian ambassador, but that will hardly serve the cause of justice for the fishermen," the newspaper said.

An editorial in the Hindustan Times called the episode an undiplomatic sleight of hand.

"If India really wants to be a regional superpower, it cannot be caught flat-footed by a country which in recent times has not only been through the economic grinder but has also proved politically volatile and ungovernable in many ways."

Mint newspaper said the "episode will go down as a black mark in India's legal history: the rights of two foreigners were more important those of the poor fisher folk, whose only goal was to earn a living for the families".

The Indian Express, quoting sources, said India was mulling "tough diplomatic options, including snapping ties, business links".

India's Supreme Court allowed Massimilian Latorre and Salvatore Girone to go home to vote in last month's elections. The marines were ordered to return within four weeks.

But Italy argues that because the case is now the subject of international maritime law, it had been decided that the pair would not return to India "on the expiration of the permission granted to them".

Rome has argued that it wants its nationals to be tried in Italy, saying the incident took place in international waters and that the Indians do not have jurisdiction in the case.

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