- Special Pages
New Delhi: In an unprecedented move, India yesterday put airports across the country on alert to prevent Italian Ambassador Daniele Mancini from leaving the country as per the apex court’s orders. The government said there were no restrictions on his movements in the country and it had not violated any protocols of diplomacy.
The union home ministry sounded the alert at airports a day after the Supreme Court restrained Ambassador Mancini from leaving India without its permission.
The ambassador was issued notice in the wake of the Italian government going back on its undertaking to the court that two marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen would return after four weeks in Italy to face trial.
“The prime minister has said the marines not returning is unacceptable,” External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told CNN-IBN.
“In the world of diplomacy when such things happen you are agitated,” he said, adding that “this story is not over yet”.
Asked if there were restrictions on the envoy’s movements, he said the ambassador was “absolutely free to move” in the country. “We only want to know what happened to the guarantee he has given to the court... That is not violation of the Vienna Convention.”
He stated that India was bound by the Vienna Convention on diplomatic protocol. “We are bound by it and will not violate it. I don’t think what the Supreme Court has said is violation of Vienna Convention.”
Diljeet Titus, a lawyer who is acting for the Italian government and the two marines following the resignation of another attorney, refused to comment on the alert order.
The Supreme Court, on February 22, allowed the two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, accused of killing two Indian fishermen off Kerala, to fly to Italy to vote in the February 24-25 national election. The two marines were to return by March 23.
He said one should wait till Monday, the date the apex court has issued notice to the diplomat to give his reply.
Italy has not contacted India since March 12, when Mancini was summoned to South Block by Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and told of New Delhi’s disapproval of Rome’s action.
Attorney General G E Vahanvati conveyed the court notices to the Italian authorities yesterday, a source said.
In Thiruvananthapuram, Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor said that Mancini’s position would become untenable if the two Italian marines did not return to India.
He denounced the manner in which the two marines had behaved after leaving India. “We have time till the 22nd of March to see if the two return. If they don’t, then the Italian ambassador’s position becomes untenable because it was he who has given the undertaking that the two will return,” said Tharoor.
The two marines shot dead two Indian fishermen, Ajesh Binki and Gelastine, on February 15 last year, allegedly mistaking them for pirates.
Last December, they were allowed to travel to Italy for Christmas, after which they returned ahead of schedule earlier this year. The apex court then ruled that they can be tried in Delhi.