India’s decision to cancel all on-going tenders for defence equipment won by Italy’s Finmeccanica is in retaliation to return of the marines involved in killing two Kerala fishermen in 2012 to Italy.
Accoridng to Italian publication, ilfattoquotidiano.it, the decision to balcklist Finmeccanica based on the scandal involving AgustaWestland AW101 VVIP choppers was taken by the government of India immediately after being forced to return the Italy rifleman Marina Salvatore Girone. The co-incidence of these events is suspicious and can be attributed to retaliation towards Italy.
The Supreme Court of India had to adhere to the order of the International Arbitration Court to release the marines. The tendering processes and the marines affair both go hand in hand, the news daily reported.
The decision to opt for the black shark torpedos for submarines was taken in March 2013. This was the same time when the Monti government (in Italy) took a decision to return the two Italian marines to India. However, a few days later, the then Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi announced that the two soldiers would not return to India.
The news daily inferred that the contracts, arrests and release of the Italian marines are too much of a coincidence.
Back in 2013, the contracts were signed and Italy promised to return the marines. Now, with the marines returning to Italy, the contracts are being cancelled. It seems as though Italy bartered the freedom of the two riflemen in the name of economic interests of Finmeccanica. The Italian Finance ministry is the largest shareholder (30.2 percent) of the group.
The other Italian mega-contract that has suffered Indian retaliation is the 200 million euro thirteen cannons naval Vulcano 127 mm manufactured by Oto Melara of La Spezia (the Finmeccanica-Leonardo Group) for the frigates and destroyers Indian navy. The tender had been won by the Italian company in December 2014, again to coincide with an important turning point of marines affair: India rejected request for parole and temporary return to Italy citing health reasons.
Another big contract that will blend was signed in early 2012 - just before the arrest of the two marines – was the three-dimensional radar RAN-40L produced by Selex SE Rome (Leonardo-Finmeccanica group) for the new Indian aircraft carrier 'Vikrant' under construction in the shipyard of Cochin.
Editor: This article is based on an unofficial translation from Italian.