CBI fails to extradite Quattrocchi
June 09: Central Bureau of Investigation received a serious blow when it failed to extradite the Bofors scandal accused Ottavio Quattrocchi from Argentine.
The first court in El Dorado, Argentine, rejected the Indian request of extradition after hearing the case details. Judge Harichi Doi gave his verdict after hearing arguments for two days while saying that detailed reason will be revealed on June 13.
Investigation agency, however, got a bit of relief as court barred the 68-year-old from leaving the country till June 18, which will give them time to appeal to the supreme court of the country.
Meanwhile, CBI, investigating the case since 1980s, would study the order before deciding on the next course of action including an appeal before Supreme Court on the first court’s decision.
"We need to study the order before chalking out the future course of action,” CBI Director Vijay Shanker was reportedly has said. While keeping the deadline of June 18 in consideration, a news agency quoted him, “Five days is enough of time for us to file a detailed appeal before the Supreme Court."
During initial phase of filing the extradition request before Argentinean court, investigation agency came under attack from different quarters among allegations that it is working under the directions of Nehru family. Nehru family reportedly had close relations with Italian businessman during Rajiv Gandhi’s time. CBI has been accused of deliberately slowing the process as it took too much time in translating 250 pages detailed report from English to Spanish, country’s official language. The agency also received flak after a British bank de-froze the account of Quattrocchi.
The bank's action came after the CBI failed to provide any evidence to the British Crown Prosecution Service, which had frozen his two bank accounts with three million pounds in July 2003. The accounts had been frozen after CBI alleged that Quattrocchi had received $712 million from AB Bofors through AE Services, a UK-based company.
Quattrocchi was arrested in Argentina on February 6, on an Interpol warrant but was released on a conditional bail later on after confiscating his passport, which still lies with Argentinean authorities.
This is the second time that India has failed to get Italian businessman to face trial in the 20-year-old case. A Malaysian court also rejected a similar request, 6 years back, after he was detained in Kuala Lumpur on an Interpol alert on December 13, 2002. His native country turned down extradition or serving the Interpol warrant, who have requested to see the evidence and prosecute Quattrocchi in Italian courts.
News channels telecasted images of relaxed Quattrocchi, while shaking hands with the two member CBI team led by Director (Prosecution) S K Sharma, after court pronounced the verdict. Along with his lawyer, Alejandro Freeland, he reiterated that CBI did not have any case and urged, “It was time to stop the persecution and harassment.”
Quattrocchi faces charges of taking bribes in a Rs.1437-crore gun deal, in 1986, favouring Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors.
Meanwhile Bharatiya Janta Party BJP has alleged that the investigation agency is working under pressure due to close relations of Nehru family with the Italian government. “They don’t want him to be extradited because of his close relations with Nehru family,” party’s spokesperson told media here. He accused CBI of deliberately slowing down the pace, which has been refuted by the agency.
CBI failed to extradite Italian businessman even when BJP was in power in Centre, which has created doubts about the proof, they have, against Quattrocchi.
The course of action to be taken by CBI from now on would be clear only after Argentinean court would reveal the reasons, behind denying the extradition request, on June 13 and till then analysis and observation won’t led it anywhere.
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