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India re-assures Portugal on Abu Salem case

March 04, 2013 18:46 IST

India on Monday assured Portugal that it would remain compliant with the expectations of the Portuguese system and judiciary on the issue of gangster Abu Salem.

The assurance comes amidst Portugal raising objection to the charges invoked by the police against Salem, who was extradited in 2005 for his alleged role in the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts that entail death penalty.

"I think the judiciary in Portugal has raised some issue. The judiciary in our country will take care of them," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said in a joint press conference with his Portuguese counterpart Paulo de Sacadura Cabral Portas.

"We already have petitions in the Supreme Court. We would like, obviously, to remain compliant with the entire Portugese system including judiciary. I have reassured the Minister," he added after his meeting with Portas during which they discussed numerous issues inlcuding anti-terror and economic cooperation.

While getting Salem extradited, India had given an executive assurance to Portugal that it would not slap any charge, which would have death penalty and would not keep him behind bars for more than 25 years, key requirements in extradition proceedings in Europe.

Later, the Delhi and Mumbai police slapped charges, which entail death penalty against Salem, an accused in several criminal cases, leaving the government and the Central Bureau of Investigation red-faced.

The CBI, after seeking legal opinion, had recently filed an application before the Supreme Court for withdrawal of additional charges slapped under the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime against Salem.

The Portugal SC had last year upheld a lower court order cancelling the extradition of Salem for violation of deportation rules by Indian authorities on the grounds that new charges were slapped against him, which attracted death penalty.

The Portuguese foreign minister said the answers given by India on its questions about Salem are "reasonable".        

Khurshid also conveyed India's "deep appreciation for the positive support" extended by Portugal on the extradition of Salem. The minister said both India and Portugal are resolutely opposed to terrorism.

"We share common views on this global menace. We reiterated our commitment to continue our cooperation in the fight against terrorism," Khurshid said.

Meanwhile, economic cooperation was the key area of focus during the talks between the two ministers. "We expressed satisfaction on the fact that bilateral trade in 2012 has been restored to pre-global economic crisis levels of 2008-09. We also acknowledged that our bilateral trade has considerable potential for growth and that the partnership is currently below potential," Khurshid said.

Portas said India has made "impressive" transformation and its economy was one of the "well prepared" ones in the 21st century.

The minister said he wanted to "boost" and "energise" trade relations with India. "We can do much much better and we will do.... I am waiting to have Portugual's very very good wine and olive oil" in India, he said.

Asked by a Portuguese reporter if India would follow the way China has started investing in Portugal, Khurshid said India was "conscious" of Chinese strength as well as its own.

"And there would be for the world, a menu to choose from. A menu, which is strong, and will have the Indian style of cooperation...."

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