Italian FM calls for release of six Italians detained by Israel

08:12, June 02, 2010      

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Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini on Tuesday urged a quick repatriation of six nationals imprisoned by Israel after its raid on a pro-Gaza aid flotilla which led to the death of at least 10 activists.

At the moment the Italian detainees are all well, according to a note by the Italian Foreign Ministry. Stefania Gloria Bellelli, an officer at Italy's embassy in Tel Aviv, met the detainees at the Beer Sheva prison and reported of their good conditions.

Some of these refused to speak when they were questioned. Given that they do not want to leave the country they will be forcibly expatriated and procedures might take up to three days before the six are back home.

The six detainees are Giuseppe Fallisi (a tenor), Angela Lano ( a pro-Palestinian journalist), activists Marcello Faracci, Manolo Luppichini, Manuel Zaniand and Ismail Abdel-Rahim Qaraqe Awin, an Italian of Palestinian origin. Five were on a Togolese ship and one on a Greek boat when the Israeli commandoes boarded to stop the convoy breaking Israel's three-year naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.

While the incident sparked a global crisis, Italy immediately condemned the military operation by supporting on Tuesday the UN Security Council statement calling for an Israeli inquiry on the tragedy and the immediate release of the almost 500 international activists kept prisoner.

"Israel is a democracy and has all the tools to be able to conduct an investigation," said Italian Foreign Ministry spokesman Maurizio Massari.

The top concern for Italy now is to guarantee the safety, release and return home of its jailed activists. Frattini assured that the Italian embassy in Tel Aviv will be constantly monitoring the situation in coordination with other diplomatic representations and Israeli authorities so as to speed-up the repatriation of the six Italians.

Talking at a television program, Frattini said the raid could provide Israel with a "great opportunity" to move towards peace with the Palestinians.

"After this frankly inexplicable mistake it could make a symbolic gesture and multiply efforts for peace by accelerating the negotiations,"warning that a stalemate in the peace process would be "a catastrophe."

In the afternoon Frattini had a phone conversation with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, reproached him by saying that civilian killings of the kind were "never to happen again."

"Israel has the right, which no one questions, to absolute security. But no one in the world can accept the slaying of civilians," Frattini stressed.

Source: Xinhua


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