Special Correspondent

Was told about his detention only on February 7, agency tells Supreme Court

New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) told the Supreme Court on Thursday that it had requested the General Secretariat Interpol on March 3 last to continue the red corner notice pending against Italian businessman and Bofors case accused Ottavio Quattrocchi.

In its affidavit, the agency said it had also sent a message to Interpol Rome on May 9 last, mentioning that the notice of February 17, 1997, was still in force; it requested them to ascertain Mr. Quattrocchi's whereabouts and apprehend him for facing trial in India.

Repeated reminders

Despite repeated reminders in the wake of reports that Mr. Quattrocchi had been interviewed by some Indian TV channels in Milan, Interpol Rome did not respond. On May 9, the CBI told the Interpol Secretariat General, Lyon, that all member-countries be requested again to execute the red corner notice if Mr. Quattrocchi was found. Copies of the Bofors case chargesheet and the Delhi High Court judgments of February 2004 and May 31, 2005, were also sent to the Interpol Secretariat General.

Countering the allegations that the notice was no longer valid, the CBI informed the apex court that the Interpol Secretariat General confirmed on September 14 last that the red corner notice would be maintained. The relevant information would remain registered and accessible to all Interpol members, and the caveat "subject to legal review" would be removed, the Secretariat General said.

The agency said it was informed of Mr. Quattrocchi's detention on February 7, a day after the Italian businessman was held at the Iguazu International Airport in Missiones province. The very next day, the CBI informed Interpol Buenos Aires that the red corner notice was still in force, and under no circumstances should Mr. Quattrocchi be released from detention as he was required for trial in India.

The affidavit said the CBI did not receive any information about Mr. Quattrocchi being granted bail either from the Indian Embassy in Buenos Aires or the Ministry of External Affairs or from Interpol Buenos Aires. It came to know from Interpol Buenos Aires on February 26 that he had been released on bail on February 23. "It is relevant to note that though Mr. Quattrocchi has been released on bail, his passport has been impounded by the Argentine authorities, and as a condition of bail, he has been prohibited from leaving Argentina."

The affidavit submitted that all necessary steps had been taken by the CBI and the Government to seek Mr. Quattrocchi's extradition.

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