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NATO expresses concern over Italian marines' case in India

Italian sailors Salvatore Girone (R) and Massimiliano Latorre leave the police commissioner office in the southern Indian city of Kochi Janu
Italian sailors Salvatore Girone (R) and Massimiliano Latorre leave the police commissioner office in the southern Indian city of Kochi Janu

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO warned India on Wednesday that using anti-terrorism legislation to try two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen would undermine international efforts to combat piracy.

India has announced its Supreme Court will hold a hearing next week on whether to charge marines Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone under its maritime security law, provoking criticism from the European Union and Italian authorities.

The two men have been living in the Italian embassy in New Delhi.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday called for an "appropriate resolution".

"I am personally very concerned about the situation of the two Italian sailors. I am also concerned by the suggestion that they could be tried for terrorism offences," he told a news conference in Brussels.

"This could have possible negative implications for the international fight against piracy. A fight which is in all of our interest."

NATO leads a counter-piracy mission in the Indian ocean.

The two marines, part of a military security team protecting the tanker Enrica Lexie from pirates, are accused of shooting the two fishermen after mistaking them for pirates off the southern Indian state of Kerala in February 2012.

India's attorney general said on Friday the two would be tried for the deaths of the fishermen under the anti-piracy and anti-terrorism law but that the death penalty available under that legislation would not be imposed.

The Indian Supreme Court is due to hold a hearing on February 18 to decide whether to validate or reject the attorney general's request.

(Reporting by Justyna Pawlak; editing by Andrew Roche)

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