Italy's foreign minister Giulio Terzi has resigned from his post in disagreement with his government over its decision to send two Italian marine guards back to India to face an ongoing trial over the killing of two Indian fishermen.
Terzi told Italy's parliament on Tuesday evening that his misgivings about the decision were ignored, so he felt he could no longer continue to serve as foreign minister.
"I resign in contention with the decision to send the marines back to Italy. The misgivings I expressed had no effect on the decision taken," 66-year-old Terzi said.
The Italian government sent back the two men, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, on Friday. They are accused of shooting dead the two Indian fishermen off southern India early last year.
Last month, the Supreme Court acceded to Italy's request that the marines be allowed to return to Italy to vote in its national elections held in February. The Italian ambassador to India gave a personal assurance that the marines would return, but Rome subsequently did a volte face and said it would not return the duo to India.
This sparked a diplomatic war, with the apex court going so far as to bar the ambassador from leaving the country.
Rome again changed its mind after receiving New Delhi's assurances that the accused would not face the death penalty.
The two marines were part of a military security team on board a cargo ship when they shot and killed the two Indian fishermen. They claim they mistook the low-powered fishing smack for a pirate vessel.
Italy has all along claimed that the shooting occurred in international waters and that the marines were not liable to Indian jurisdiction.