Sun, Dec 08, 2002

CBI team pushes for Quattrocchi extradition

New Delhi, Dec 7
A two-member CBI team is in Kuala Lumpur to meet Malaysian legal experts to facilitate the extradition of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, wanted in the Bofors gun scandal.
CBI sources said the two members, which include a legal expert of the agency, reached the Malaysian capital late last night and were deliberating various issues concerning the case with Malaysian Attorney General and other legal experts, fighting the case on India's behalf.
Proceedings for the extradition of Quattrocchi got stuck when a Sessions Court rejected the Indian plea, saying that the evidence available with CBI was unsubstantial and vague and allowed the Italian businessman to take his passport and move freely.
India filed an appeal along with a stay application against the order before the Malaysian High Court through the Attorney General there.
The matter came up for hearing on Thursday when Quattrocchi was asked to surrender his passport till the matter was over.
The agency rushed the two-member team to assist the Attorney General in the case when the matter comes up for hearing on Monday.
Quattrocchi has been named by the CBI in the chargesheet, it filed in the Bofors gun deal case, for taking share from the Rs 64 crore kickbacks.
The Sessions Court in Kuala Lumpur had while discharging Quattrocchi from the extradition proceeding allowed him to take his passport.
Quattrocchi was asked to surrender his passport after the Attorney General contended that it would be difficult to arrest him again if he is allowed to move out of the Malaysia as he is wanted in India in connection with the Bofors gun deal case.
The appeal and the stay application was argued by the Attorney General in the court the entire day on Thursday, but the arguments still remained inconclusive. The matter was posted for further hearing on Monday.
The Attorney General placed the correct position on the case and stressed that extradition proceedings were initiated against Quattrocchi only after it had concrete and substantial evidence about the involvement of the Italian businessman in the Bofors case.
The appeal was moved by the Malaysian Attorney General before the High Court in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday after a formal request was made by India.
Quattrocchi was released in Kuala Lumpur on Monday with the Sessions Court terming reasons given by India seeking his extradition ''insufficient, vague and ambiguous''.
Quattrocchi was discharged and his passport returned after the order effectively ended all proceedings related to the case being pursued in other Malaysian courts.
The government or the prosecution should have been given a chance to plead their case before the court passed the orders, he added.
He said the court was clearly told that charges against the controversial Italian businessman were specific and documentary evidence was supplied to support them.