Italy summons India ambassador over detained marines

ROME Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:09am EST

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ROME (Reuters) - Italy has summoned the Indian ambassador to urge that India's Supreme Court reach a decision before the year-end Christmas holiday to settle a dispute over where two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen should be tried.

The sailors, members of a military security team protecting the cargo ship Enrica Lexie from pirate attacks, fired on the fishermen's boat off the Indian coast in February. Italian officials say the men mistook the fishermen for pirates.

The marines have been detained in India and Italy has challenged India's right to try them.

It has taken its case to the Supreme Court in New Delhi, saying the shooting took place in international waters, outside the jurisdiction of Indian courts.

Indian authorities accuse the sailors of killing unarmed fishermen in a "contiguous zone" where Indian law applies.

In a statement late on Thursday, Italy's Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the ambassador to express its "profound surprise and concern" that the Indian Supreme Court had not ruled on the case three months after arguments ended.

The case has soured relations between Italy and India, with Rome insisting that Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone should be tried at home.

(Reporting By Catherine Hornby)

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