`Quattrocchi let off by CBI as he is close to ex-PM`
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Last Updated: Saturday, October 30, 2010, 19:12
New Delhi: An advocate, who opposed CBI's move to withdraw the Bofors pay-off case against Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, on Saturday alleged before a court that the probe agency acted in favour of the accused as he was close to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Arguing before Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Vinod Yadav, advocate Ajay Agrawal referred to a number of judgments of higher courts to point out that any individual can initiate criminal proceedings and his locus standi cannot be challenged.

Reading out statements of witnesses, including that of a Special Protection Group (SPG) officer, recorded by CBI under Section 161 of the Cr PC, the advocate said that Quattrocchi was close to Gandhi and used to frequent his residences.

"The manner in which CBI acted, it showed that it was hand-in-glove with the accused," he alleged.

He also referred to the previous stand of CBI as well as its act of defreezing the account of the accused, besides his pending petition before the Supreme Court in the Bofors case, to allege that the probe agency instead of acting against him has defended him.

"So many people are languishing in different jails of the country, why the prosecuting agencies are not seeking withdrawal of cases against them?" he said.

The arguments of Agrawal was strongly opposed by Additional Solicitor General PP Malhotra who submitted that the advocate was raising "irrelevant" arguments.

The ASG said the application for withdrawal of a case can be filed by a prosecutor and the court was not supposed to look into the merits of the case.

The arguments by Agrawal remained inconclusive and are likely to continue on November eight, the next date of hearing.

Quattrocchi, the sole surviving accused in the case after the Delhi High Court had quashed the charges on May 31, 2005, against other accused, has never appeared before any court in the country.

CBI had on October 3 last filed the plea in the court seeking withdrawal of case against Quattrocchi. The court had since then deferred the pronouncement of order on a number occasions in the matter.

CBI had failed on two occasions in its attempt to get Quattrocchi extradited -- first from Malaysia in 2003 and then from Argentina in 2007.


First Published: Saturday, October 30, 2010, 19:12

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