India cancels Finmeccanica deals after marine's return

Marines LaTorre and Girone with an Indian guard

ROME—Italy will lose as much 2 billion worth of orders for Finmeccanica defence equipment with India after the Indian government placed state-run industrial concern ENI on the black list in apparent retaliation for selling helicopters to Pakistan, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.

 Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told the PTI agency that “the Black list procedure already has started," meaning that only existing maintenance contracts with Finmeccanica will be continued, the sources said.

 Some Italian commentators saw the move as an expression of sour grapes after New Delhi was forced by an Indian Supreme Court decision to allow the return to Italy of Salvatore Girone, one of two Italian marines accused of shooting and killing two Indian fishermen in an incident that sparked off a long-running, complex dispute.

 However the sources said the draconian cancellation of Italian defence deals was prompted by Finmeccanica announcing a week ago that it had reached a deal to sell Augusta Westland AW139 choppers to Islamabad, theoretically for search and rescue purposes though with nothing preventing them being armed subsequently for military use.

 Deals with Finmeccanica that are being cancelled by India include accords for the supply of Black Shark missiles for Indian submarines, for Selex radar systems for Indian aircraft carriers and for naval guns for Indian frigates.

 ENI share prices plunged on the Milan stock exchange Monday.