CBI seeks two months to study options to nail Quattrocchi (Lead)

New Delhi, April 30 (Inditop) The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Thursday sought two months’ time from a Delhi court to decide its further course of action against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in connection with the Bofors payoffs case after his name was withdrawn from the list of wanted persons.

Appearing before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kaveri Baweja, Additional Solicitor General P.P. Malhotra, appearing for the CBI, contended that the Red Corner Notice issued against Quattrocchi was withdrawn in Nov 25 last year.

The court then inquired as to what options were left with the prosecution in the case against Quattrocchi.

To this, Malhotra replied, “There were eight accused in the case. Three are already dead, four were acquitted by the Delhi High Court in February 2004. Various attempts to get Quattrocchi extradited to India have failed.”

In her order, the Magistrate said: “An application filed on behalf of the CBI seeks a period of two months to decide further course of action in the matter. It is stated that during the course of investigation, the Red Corner Notice was recalled. Extradition proceedings have not been completed for various reasons.”

The magistrate deferred the hearing till Sep 8. The CBI Thursday filed in the court its status report on revoking the Red Corner notice against Quattrocchi.

The Interpol had withdrawn the RCN against 70-year-old Quattrocchi, which was first issued against him in 1997, following a communication from the CBI.

Quattrocchi never appeared before the court to face trial in the case and, as a result, charges could not be framed against him despite two chargesheets filed in the case. Subsequently, he was declared an absconder.

The court had on Feb 10, 1997, sent letters to Malaysia and the UAE seeking the arrest and extradition of Quattrocchi.

The case against Quattrocchi, who is known to be close to the family of late Rajiv Gandhi who was prime minister in 1987 when the Bofors bribery scandal broke, has taken tortuous twists and turns after he was named in a CBI chargesheet as the conduit for the Bofors bribe in 1999.

The nearest the CBI came to him was in February 2007 when Quattrocchi was detained in Argentina on the basis of an Interpol warrant.

But the CBI took time in translating documents that were to be presented in the designated court there and also put up a half-hearted effort towards his extradition. It finally lost the case for his extradition four months later.

The 12-year Interpol Red Corner Notice, or lookout notice, against Quattrocchi, who has till date evaded interrogation, was taken off from the “wanted” section of the agency’s website reportedly on the legal advice of Attorney General Milon Banerjee last year.

Quattrocchi is accused by the CBI of receiving millions of dollars in commissions for helping to fix the $1.4 billion gun deal in the mid-1980s.