Italy recalled its ambassador to India on Friday afternoon after two Italian marines were charged with murdering two Indian fishermen earlier in the day.
In the light of the developments in the situation in Kerala and the charges against the two Italian servicemen, Latore Massimiliano and Salvatore Girone, the Italian ambassador to New Delhi, Giacomo Sanfelice has been recalled to Rome for consultations with the Government, the Italian Foreign Ministry in a statement.
The Italian soldiers, who are members of a special anti-piracy unit guarding Italian oil tankers, said in February that they mistook the fishermen, who allegedly ignored a warning shot, for pirates. According to the Indian government, the fishermen, Valentine Jalastine and Ajesh Bi, were unarmed when they were killed.
According to the Hindustan Times, the incident occurred 20.5 nautical miles off the Indian coast in international waters, meaning that local laws would not apply to the case. Nonetheless, the Italian government offered to compensate the families of the victims with 10 million rupees ($189,000), in exchange for having agreed to withdraw a civil case against the marines.
Latorre and Girone are currently being held in a prison in the Keralan state capital, of Trivandrum, and local officials say that the marines will be tried under Indian law. The trial against Latorre and Girone is scheduled to begin on May 25.
India has downplayed the diplomatic significance of the case, saying that calling back for consultation is not unusual and they have not told us it is anything unusual.
Our understanding is that it is for consultation, not for (a permanent) recall, a spokesman for India's foreign ministry told Reuters.