By T. P. Sreenivasan
13 Mar 2013
IDES OF MARCH: In diplomacy and international law, India has a major grievance against Italy, which will have an adverse impact on bilateral relations. File photo shows Italian marines Massimiliano Latorre, left, and Salvatore Girone walking to enter the main premises of the central prison in Thiruvananthapuram.
The Hindu Activists of the Kerala Swathandra Malsya Thozhilali Union and National Fish Workers Forum protest against Italian marines, in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday.
Italy stands guilty not only of causing the death of innocent people, but also of violating a solemn promise given in the name of a sovereign state
The tremors of an act of Italian perfidy instantly reached the shores of Kerala on Monday night, where some impoverished fisherfolk have been waiting for justice for more than a year. The Italians, ranging from consular officials to the Foreign Minister of Italy, who visited the relatives of the victims of the shooting in February last year, had appeared reasonable and sympathetic. In fact, there was even appreciation for the extent to which the Italian Government was ready to go to rescue their marines. Its decision not to send the marines back to India to stand trial by revoking the solemn guarantee given by the Italian Government to the Supreme Court of India came as a rude shock. At a moment when the believers are focused on Italy because of the papal election, the country’s reputation and credibility have hit an all-time low.
Setting up confrontation
For most Europeans, to whom “Italian Justice” refers to the many failings of the judicial system in the country, the action may not come as a surprise. There is barely any iconic case in Italy that has given confidence to the people that justice has been done. Even after verdicts have been given, “conspiracy theorizing” is known to be a national pastime. A country with such a reputation for a cavalier attitude to law was not worthy of the trust bestowed on it by the Supreme Court of India. The defiance of the Supreme Court on the one hand and violation of basic diplomatic norms on the other have brought Italy to an unprecedented confrontation with India.