M A I N   N E W S

Clearance to Quattrocchi challenged in apex court
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, April 28
An application was moved in the Supreme Court today challenging the CBI’s reported move to withdraw the red corner notice against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, an accused in the Bofors kickback case.

In his application, Ajay Agarwal, a lawyer, asked the apex court to issue directions to the Centre to restore the red corner notice, in case it had been withdrawn.

Agarwal, who had earlier moved the Supreme Court in January 2006 against the defreezing of Quattroccchi's bank account in London, sought issuance of red corner notice again. He said the Interpol should be informed immediately so that Quattrocchi could be nabbed and produced before Indian court.

Following a communication from the CBI, the Interpol had taken Quattrocchi’s name off the red corner notice. The CBI had approached Attorney General Milon K Banerjee last year for an opinion as to whether to continue with the red corner notice issued by Interpol against Quattrocchi as the notice had to be renewed every five years.

The Attorney General cited inability of CBI to seek Quattrocchi’s extradition on two occasions — first in Malaysia in 2003 and then in Argentina in 2007 — and opined that the judgements in both the cases indicated that there was no good ground for extradition.

The warrant cannot remain in force forever. Therefore, the warrant of February 1997 would lose its validity, particularly in view CBI’s successive failed attempts to get the accused extradited from Malaysia and recently from Argentina,” Banerjee said.

Agarwal had filed the petition in March 2007 accusing CBI and its director of consistently misleading the court over the extradition proceedings initiated against Quattrocchi.

During a hearing on September 5 last, the advocate had alleged “it is ex-facie clear that the CBI is helping Quattrocchi ever since the change of guard at the Centre after the general election in 2004 in the country and at every step CBI is facilitating Quattrocchi so that he may go free from the Bofors investigation”.

Agarwal, who had also filed an application questioning the government’s effort in securing the foreign national’s extradition from Argentina after he was detained there on February 6, 2007, had said the El Dorado court in that country declined India’s request as the original arrest order of 1997 by a court here was not produced by the CBI.

The CBI had said non-existence of any extradition treaty with Argentina came in the way of getting back Quattrocchi, who was detained at the Iguazu International Airport on the basis of a red-corner notice issued by Interpol and later released on bail on February 23, 2007.

Quattrocchi, 69, walked to freedom after the El Dorado court rejected India’s plea for his extradition on June 8, 2007. — PTI



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