ROME (TIP): The mayor of Taranto, home of one of the marines at the centre of a row with India over the killing of two fishermen, has invited their orphaned children to study in the port town. “Our whole city is ready to welcome the unfortunate children of the fishermen to study here,” Taranto mayor Ippazio Stefano wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “I must express my profound regret for what has happened and do not hesitate to reaffirm by personal regard – and that of the city I represent – for the Indian people.” “The friendship between our two countries has been extensive, sincere and loyal, in every area,” the letter stated. The letter, which also praised India for the role its soldiers played in liberating Italy at the end of World War II, was sent to Manmohan Singh via India’s ambassador to Italy, Debabrata Saha. It was not clear which one of the marines — Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone — hails from Taranto. India’s Supreme Court has told Italy’s ambassador Daniele Mancini that he may not leave the country without its permission.
The apex court allowed the marines to go home to vote in February’s general election. Mancini had assured India the two men would return. Rome claims India does not have jurisdiction in the case and wants the men to be tried in Italy instead of by a special court in Indiaa. At the time of the shootings, the marines were guarding the Italian oil tanker Enrica Lexie off India’s southwestern coast. They claim they thought the two unarmed fishermen were pirates. Italy says the incident happened in international waters, while India claims it occurred in its own waters.