‘Twas a very low-profile end of the year, but here we are again. After some vacation and without much time to waste, here’s a little story of the facts involving two Italian soldiers arrested last year in India for having shot 2 fishermen dead. For my Italian friends, there is a non-translated, non-abridged version of the story by Giap here (author: Matteo Miavaldi)
Listening to the Italian media is excruciating. This sentence can be – and is – used by anyone living in Italy and turning on the TV.
Reading the Italian papers is a waste of time. This sentence can be – and is – used by anyone who speaks Italian and has access to newspapers, either in print or online.
Verba volant, scripta manent. Latins knew how to depict feelings in one sentence: the TV brainwashes you and you don’t even realize it, while you can note down all mistakes a newspaper prints on the page. But what’s so special about the Italian media? More than its audience, it is racist and bigot to a disproportionate extent. The case of the two Italian soldiers who allegedly shot dead 2 Indian fishermen while “protecting” an Italian tanker nearby the Indian coast is a case in point. After the whole Christmas merry-go-round of fascist utterings by several Italian politicians, the time was ripe for a rebuttal from honest people who actually know the facts and live where they have occurred. It just takes a little reading and a pinch of surfing the web to get the perfect recipe of information on this case. Serving their political agenda, Italian newspapers and newsreels have built a farce in order to purport a different reality to their customers.
“It’s not fair that our soldiers are kept in prison by those barbarians”. BOOM! Racism, supremacism, imperialism, and fascism all in one go. This was never said by the news, but is what the news have generated within the numb brains of many Italians. Here’s what happened, according to the article – and reality.
On February 15, 2012 the Italian tanker “Enrica Lexie” (EL) is sailing not far from the coast of Kerala, in South-Western India, in its journey to Egypt. 34 people are on board. Among them, 6 “Marò” (Italian marines) from the Venetian “Reggimento San Marco” whose duty was to protect the boat from pirate attacks, which proved to be a concrete risk along the route that brought them close to the waters of East Africa. Not far from there, an Indian fishing boat “St. Antony” [sic] has 11 people on board. At around 4.30 p.m., the incident. EL thinks it’s under a pirate attack and the Marò shoot towards the “St. Antony”, killing Ajesh Pinky (25) and Selestian Valentine (45). The “St. Antony” reports to the coastal guard of the Kollam district, who immediately contacts the EL, asking if it were involved in a pirate attack. EL’s confirmation leads the coastal guard to ask the Italian boat to approach the port of Kochi. The Italian Navy commands to the EL’s captain Umberto Vitelli not to sail to the port and not to let the Italian soldiers on Indian soil. The captain, who’s not in the army but a private citizen, has to respond to the shipowner first and so he concedes to the requests of the Indian authorities. The same night, the victims’ bodies are examined with an autopsy. Two days after, they are buried. On the 19th, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, two among the Marò, are arrested upon charges of murder. The Tribunal of Kollam sentences that the two Italian soldiers be kept in custody at the guesthouse of the CISF (Central Industrial Security Force), Indian police corps. This detail is important, because they are not kept in a regular prison.
The Italian news and the Italian people have been vomiting racist crap on the issue for almost a year now, but the amount of bullshit intensified last Christmas, when the two Marò had been granted a special permit to visit their families in Italy, while they wait for a trial. An exceptional case for people who are accused of murder. Especially given that, without the consent of the Indian court, the families of the victims were “presented with” a donation of 10 million rupees (around $200.000) on a cheque signed by the Italian government. On top of this slimy conduct, a grotesque scene took place when Rome lobbied their neighbors in the Vatican to get a local Catholic priest to “open a spiritual channel” in connection with the families, both Catholic. The Indian authorities were unhappy of this attitude, to say the least.
There are three questions that leave a bitter taste to those who care:
1) How is it possible, in the XXI Century, to think you can resolve international questions with bribes and slimy practices just because Italy is dealing with India (ppfft. they don’t even have laws down there!)
2) How can Italians negate their inherent racism when they approach a foreign country in such manner, and how can we stand the presence of so many fascists (many among them are actually in Parliament or in Government)?
3) Why, why on Earth, do Italian soldiers “protect” private tankers abroad? The law that allowed this practice was signed under the usual Parliamentary silence. Apparently, corporations in Italy are more important than people. Suck it, Colbert!