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Home > News > PTI

Quattrocchi extradition plea dismissed

Vandana Saxena in Kuala Lumpur | December 13, 2002 15:17 IST

A Malaysian court on Friday dismissed India's plea for extradition of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi in connection with the Bofors payoff case.

Malaysian high court judge Justice Augustine Paul gave the ruling on a petition by India challenging the verdict of a sessions court, which had earlier in December rejected India's plea for the businessman's extradition to stand trial in the Bofors payoff case.

India should have disclosed the charges against Quattrocchi at the sessions court itself, the judge ruled.

"I always had full faith in the Malaysian judiciary. I have done nothing wrong. I have nothing to fear," Quattrocchi said reacting to the verdict. He has been on bail since his arrest in December 2000. He alleges that India's attempt to seek his extradition to stand trial in the Bofors case is politically motivated.

Addressing a press conference in Delhi, CBI Director P C Sharma termed the verdict as 'distressing'. Maintaining that India was not given a 'fair chance' to present its point of view, he said the CBI would file an appeal.

Earlier, Justice Paul said the offences (cheating and corruption) alleged to have been committed by Quattrocchi in India are open to doubt. "An act or omission complained of in India must also be an offence in Malaysia in order to qualify as an extradition offence," he said.

"Sufficient material must be placed before the court at the commencement of the extradition inquiry to show, inter alia, that the fugitive criminal is an accused person. If he is not an accused person, then there can be no extradition proceedings against him."

"It would thus be a folly to go through the process of extradition inquiry only to realise at the end of it that the person whose extradition is sought is only suspected to have committed an extradition offence and is not an accused

He said the reference to the substantive offences in the warrant of arrest against the respondent 'can be ignored'.

The judge also said that the prosecution should not undertake an extradition inquiry in respect of an offence
committed in another country if it is unable to identify the corresponding local law at the commencement of the inquiry.

Justice Paul observed the disclosure of the charge must be made in a reasonable time to allow the respondent to prepare his defence.

"It is essential that the charge in accordance with the law of the requesting country is furnished and if it cannot be done so, for whatever reason, at least a statement of particulars of the offence must be supplied. The inquiry cannot proceed without this."

"I fail to understand why it was not done, even at this stage, despite the fact that the absence of charges has been a bone of contention between the parties for the last two years. The respondents ought to have been served with
copies of the documents that would have showed compliance with the law."

"There is sufficient evidence on record to show that the respondent received large sums of money from AE Services
limited," the judge said while observing that 'a conspiracy to commit corruption is not an offence in Malaysia'.

Prosecutor Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin said Quattrocchi was now free to go wherever he wanted to go.

"We will be appealing against the ruling and also ask for a stay order on the ruling," he said. Kamaruddin represents Malaysia's attorney general, who is arguing the case on India's behalf.

Malaysia and India have no extradition treaty and the case has been mired in legal arguments for nearly two years.

Earlier, the Malaysian government, accepting India's request, had ordered his extradition, which was challenged by Quattrocchi. He had been arrested on December 20, 2000 and a magistrate had transferred his case to a sessions court the same day. Quattrocchi was later freed on bail.

But before the extradition proceedings at the sessions court could end, Quattrocchi made an application on March 8, 2001 in the high court for a judicial review of the case and also obtained a stay on the proceedings in the lower court.

During the course of the judicial review case, Quattrocchi requested the sessions court to return his passport. The request was turned down by the court, which ruled that it has no jurisdiction over the matter because the case had been stayed by the high court.

Subsequently, on June 26 last, the high court allowed Quattrocchi to make an application in the sessions court to
retrieve his passport by excluding the issue from the stay order.

However, on October 21, the high court rejected his application ruling that a request of a judicial review was premature. Judge Abdul Aziz Bin Mohammed said Quattrocchi should first wait for the outcome of the extradition case in the sessions court. This paved the way for the sessions court to reopen the case, which on December 2 went in Quattrocchi's favour.

Bofors payoff case: Complete Coverage

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