The Central Bureau of Investigation has “nothing to add to, or subtract from, what is available on record” with reference to Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Bofors case. This was indicated to The Hindu by CBI Director Ashwani Kumar in response to a question on the agency’s latest legal move to withdraw the case against the Italian businessman.
Mr. Kumar, who left here on Friday after participating in an Interpol conference, said the future course of action in the case “entirely depends on the courts” in India. “Our investigation was over [nearly] 18 years ago; and since then, all our documents are the same,” he emphasised.
About the CBI’s failure to secure Mr. Quattrocchi’s extradition from Malaysia during 2002-2004, Mr. Kumar maintained that the best legal teams were fielded in that country and as also wherever the case was pursued.
The legal denouement in the Quattrocchi case in Malaysia could be traced to the “lack of harmony between different legal systems,” Mr. Kumar said. He was commenting on the grounds cited by the Malaysian judges to rule out extradition.
Without going into the specifics of the differences in the legal procedures of India and Malaysia, Mr. Kumar said the CBI was seeking the extradition of Mr. Quattrocchi for trial after completing the investigation.
A critical judgment in the legal process was that “the failure to supply the [High] Court [in Kuala Lumpur] and the respondent with charges is fatal” to the argument that Mr. Quattrocchi had committed an extradition-grade offence. The case was prosecuted by Malaysia’s Attorney-General, acting on behalf of India in the absence of a bilateral extradition treaty.
A recurring argument by the prosecution was that the Indian procedure “does not authorise the formulation of a charge” except “in the presence of the respondent” after his interrogation. This did not take place in the situation as it unfolded. And, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled that it “cannot comply” with the prosecution’s final move to seek an “alternative” procedure of framing charges under the auspices of Malaysian court itself.