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CBI defends ‘Q’ announcement
Identity check led to delay
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 24
As the political heat began to build up again on the Bofors issue, the CBI today dismissed suggestions that there had been a delay in announcing the detention of Bofors-accused Ottavio Quattrocchi in Argentina and decided to send its team to pursue the Italian businessman’s extradition to India.

“The CBI had to verify his identity and also translate documents which were in Spanish before disclosing the detention,” CBI director Vijay Shankar said replying to a question on why it took over two weeks for the agency to make the information public.

Moreover, hiring translators and interpreting legal documents is time-consuming and that is what the agency was doing since it learnt about the Quottrocchi’s detention, Mr Shanker added.

While the CBI official refused to talk further on the issue, sources in the agency said it had decided to send a team to Argentina to aggressively pursue extradition of Quattrocchi.

Time is an essence for the CBI as it is mandatory that the formal extradition request be presented within 30 days of the detention, which ends on March 5. Quattrocchi was detained by the Argentinian authorities at the Iguazu International Airport in the province of Misiones on February 6 while he was on his way to Buenos Aires.

Since India has no pact with Argentina, Indian authorities will have to prove that the crimes Quattrocchi is wanted for are also crimes in that country, the sources said, adding the extradition request will be routed through the ministry of external affairs which in turn will forward it to Argentina.

Even as the CBI has been officially maintaining that it is aggressively pursuing Quattrocchi’s extradition, sources said it would be an uphill task for the agency to get him.

Apart from the time constraint, the CBI is also in a quandary over its own submission before a UK court last year that it had no evidence to link it with the kickback money in the Bofors scam.

Then additional solicitor-general B Datta had visited the Crown Prosecution Service in Britain and informed it that the CBI did not have any evidence to link the money to the payoffs.

Quattrocchi’s bank accounts in London with three million euros and $1 million were defreezed by the UK court.

The 69-year-old Italian businessman, who was close to the Gandhi family, was alleged to have received kickbacks from Swedish arms manufacturer Bofors for the contract to sell 155mm

Meanwhile, an application was moved before the Supreme Court today seeking a direction to the government to take immediate steps for Quattrocchi’s extradition.

The application was filed by Ajay Agrawal.



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