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Bofors scam accused Quattrocchi dies

New Delhi, July 13
Controversial Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, who was a key figure in the Bofors payoffs scandal, has died in Milan following a stroke. Seventy-four-year-old Quattrocchi died peacefully yesterday and his funeral would take place on Monday, a member of the family told PTI on phone from the Italian city.

The Bofors chargesheet filed in 1999 by the CBI had named Quattrocchi, who was close to the Gandhi family during his days in India as the representative of an Italian firm, as one of the accused in the case regarding the Rs 64 crore payoffs for supply of Swedish Howitzer guns to the Indian Army. The Rs 1,600 crore contract was clinched in 1986.

But on March 4, 2011, a Tis Hazari court here discharged Quattrocchi from the payoffs case after allowing the CBI to withdraw the prosecution against him, bringing to an end a major chapter in the 25-year-old Bofors saga.

An application for withdrawal of the case against Quattrocchi was filed by the public prosecutor on October 3, 2009.

The CBI had unsuccessfully tried to extradite Quattrocchi to India but it lost two extradition appeals, first in Malaysia in 2002, and then in Argentina in 2007.

Quattrochi left India in 1993 to avoid being arrested.

Defence minister AK Antony recently said the government does not plan to launch any fresh probe into the Bofors scandal and that Quattrocchi stands "discharged" as he could not be extradited even after 20 years of registration of the case.

Antony had told Parliament that Quattrocchi had left India on July 29-30, 1993, before the CBI had "any material evidence warranting his arrest" in the Bofors case. The scandal had cost Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress the 1989 General Election.

With the measures undertaken by the CBI failing to get Quattrocchi extradited from Malaysia and Argentina, he now "stands discharged from the case", he added.

Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav, in his 73-page order, while discharging the Italian noted that the CBI, despite "spending through the nose for about 21 years, has not been able to put forward legally sustainable evidence with regard to conspiracy in the matter.

The Bofors scandal erupted after a 1987 report on Swedish radio, claiming that Bofors had paid bribes to secure the contract.

Quattrocchi, born in Mascali, province of Catania, Sicily, is reported to have arrived in India in the mid-1960s as the representative of Italian oil and gas firm Eni and its engineering arm Snamprogetti. PTI

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