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SC hearing likely today
Q’s extradition: CBI team to go to Argentina
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, February 25
A two-member CBI team will leave for Argentina on Wednesday to take up the extradition of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, a key accused in the Rs 64-crore Bofors payoff case while a petition against alleged suppression of information about his arrest from Supreme Court is likely to come up for hearing before it tomorrow.

The CBI, which under fire from the Opposition parties for “withholding” information about Quattrocchi’s arrest by Interpol in Argentina on February 6, was deputing a two-officers’ team initially on February 28 to prepare the groundwork as the case has to be presented before a court in Argentina positively prior to the expiry of one month’s time on March 5.

The CBI sources said another team of officers, including the agency’s own lawyer, would be sent soon after to ensure that extradition efforts yielded positive results.

“Every effort will be made to bring Quattrocchi to India to stand trial,” the sources said.

The case would be presented in the court concerned there through Argentina’s Prosecutor-General and if permission is granted for appearance of the CBI’s own lawyer, then he would be asked to take up the matter.

In view of the very short time at its disposal, the agency is contemplating to take the services of a private law firm in Argentina to get the legal help, particularly on the applicability of the relevant laws to secure the extradition of Quattrocchi, who was arrested by Interpol on a long pending ‘Red Corner’ notice at Iguazu international airport during a transition travel.

The agency brass were in constant touch with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to facilitate smooth sailing with Buenos Aires, the sources said, adding that the ministry was also being requested whether it would like to send any of its official to act as ‘liaison officer’ to help the agency in expediting the matter.

The CBI acknowledged that the matter would not be easy for it as India does not have any extradition treaty with Argentina. Besides, the court there would have to be convinced on the legal requirement of India in the face of Italian laws which do not permit its citizens to be extradited to another country to face trial. On the other hand, a petition accusing CBI of suppressing the information of the arrest even from the Supreme Court during the last hearing on the issue on February 12, is likely to come up for hearing tomorrow.

Advocate Ajay Agrawal, on whose petition the apex court had issued notices earlier to the CBI as why it had not filed appeal against the discharge of three Europe-based Hinduja brothers in the case by the Delhi High Court, is likely to be mentioned for urgent hearing tomorrow.

On February 12, the apex court had issued another notice to the CBI on his fresh application on defreezing of Quattrocchi’s two London accounts and the agency allowing him to withdraw nearly Rs 20 crore from it, which allegedly was linked to the Bofors payoff money.

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