The Indian Supreme Court had authorized the marines to go home temporarily in order to vote in the last general elections. After their comeback the Italian Government, suddenly, had announced that they were not going back to India.
The Indian reaction had been exceptionally harsh. The Italian Ambassador in New Delhi, who had signed an affidavit with a personal pledge for the marines’ return, had been forbidden to leave India and was at risk of being indicted for contempt of the Court. According to the Indian Supreme Court, he was not entitled to diplomatic immunity since he had freely taken part in a local judicial proceeding. Probably, other measures of retaliation were also threatened.
Italy, with a weak economy and without a Government, got only a very lukewarm support from the European Union, with High Representative for Foreign Affairs Baroness Catherine Ashton even stating that the EU was not a part in the dispute and therefore not interfering in it.
In the end, yesterday the Interministerial Committee for the Security of the Republic decided that the marines had to be sent back to India, which was done with a hastily arranged Air Force flight. According to press sources, it took five hours to the Government to convince the two soldiers to board the plane.
The U-turn by the Government was harshly criticized by the Parliament (in particular by the right-wing parties) and by the Armed Forced trade unions (soldiers are allowed limited trade union representation in Italy). The Government has been summoned by the Parliament to report; the hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.