Bollywood Film Crew Gets Permit Pulled in Italy in Protest of Detained Sailors

The provincial president denied permission for Indian crew to shoot in the area after two Italians were held in India in wake of a 2012 maritime shooting.

ROME -- The province of Lecco in northern Italy has denied permission for a Bollywood film crew to shoot there in what the head of the province says is retaliation for India's retention of two Italian sailors in connection with a 2012 shooting.

Lecco provincial president Daniele Nava has refused a request for a Bollywood film to set a film in the historic Villa Monsatero and its gardens in Varenna, which is part of Lecco, near Milan. The request was originally granted and then revoked.

The move sparked hundreds of positive comments on social media and on Italian news sites reporting the decision.

"India does not respect international law," Nava said.

Nava said the decision was based on the jailing, in India, of sailors Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre, who were returned to India last year to face trial after an diplomatic incident. The two sailors were stationed aboard an Italian oil tanker, the MT Enrica Lexie, when they opened fire on a small Indian fishing trawler near the Indian coast, believing it approached the Italian vessel in order to illegal board it. Two Indian fishermen were killed.

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The killings sparked an international incident: Italy said the shooting was self defense and took place in international waters, while India said it was a homicide that took place in Indian territorial waters. Girone and Lattorre were detained, but then allowed to return to Italy last year to vote and spend time with family. Italy then refused to return the two men, announcing a cash settlement with the families of the two fishermen. An international incident erupted and eventually the sailors were returned to India, where they remain.

The events remain a significant sore spot in relations between Italy and India, and Nava's move to block access to sites to the Bollywood crew have only called more attention to the topic.

The Lombardy Film Commission, which seeks to attract film productions to Lombardy (the region that includes Milan and Lecco), said the film world and politics should be kept apart. Film commission president Alberto Contri said that after Nava's remarks the Bollywood crew -- the film they are working on has not been identified -- decided against using the Lecco location in favor of shooting in another spot.

Twitter: @EricJLyman