Italy Issues India Travel Warning Over Marines Standoff

By MarEx 2013-03-18 09:17:00

Italy warned its citizens to exercise caution when travelling in India following its decision not to send back to trial two Italian marines accused of killing Indian fishermen while on anti-piracy duty.

The warning posted on the Foreign Ministry website advised Italians to "maintain an alert and cautious attitude and to stay away from any public meetings", particularly in the southern state of Kerala, one of India's most popular tourist destinations.

Italy advised the Indian government last week the two marines would not return to India from a home visit, drawing an angry response from New Delhi which has barred the Italian ambassador from leaving the country.

The marines, who were part of a security detail protecting the tanker Enrica Lexie, are accused of shooting two Indian fishermen, apparently after mistaking them for pirates off the coast of Kerala in February last year.

The incident has sparked fury in India and caused a serious diplomatic incident, despite the traditionally had good relations between the two countries.

The marines, who had been detained in India to face trial, were granted leave to return home last month to vote in Italy's general election. They had previously been granted home leave for Christmas, after which they had returned to India.

Italy says India has no right to try the marines, saying that the incident took place in international waters.

Reporting by James Mackenzie; Editing by Sophie Hares (C) Reuters 2013.