Italy is objecting to India's decision to use an anti-piracy law in prosecuting two Italian marines accused of killing two fishermen, even if the death penalty is ruled out.

Italian Deputy Foreign Minister Staffan de Mistura says applying such a law is "unacceptable" and effectively makes India "tantamount and equivalent to a terrorist-act country."

The Italian official was speaking Monday after the Indian Supreme Court set the case for Feb. 18, though official charges have yet to be filed. The marines have been kept in India since 2012, when as part of a cargo ship's security team they fired at the fishermen, saying they mistook them for pirates.

India said last week the marines would be charged under the severe anti-piracy law, but would not face the death penalty.