Urea scam accused London-based Brazilian businessman 65-year-old A.E. Pinto died of a heart attack at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital on Monday morning.
A paralytic stroke had left Pinto severely immobilised and he had been urging the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court to let him return to London on a personal bond.
“Due to the slow pace of trial, Pinto had in effect undergone a detention of 13 years when the maximum punishment he could get for the offence of cheating, criminal breach of trust and criminal conspiracy was seven years,” Pinto's lawyer, Wills Matthews, said.
Pinto was arrested in 1997 in the sensational Rs 13.3-million urea scam when the P.V. Narasimha Rao-led Congress government was in power.
“I am very, very angry. The delay in Indian judicial system has killed my husband. There was no evidence against him,” Eugena, Pinto’s wife, herself a cancer patient working with an NGO in the UK to meet Pinto’s steep medical expenses and house rent, told Hindustan Times from the UK.
In what almost sounds like a premonition now, Pinto in a petition to the high court in May last year had said, “I require immediate indulgence from court, failing which I may die a very lonely and inhuman death.” Taking a humanitarian view of Pinto's plight, the Supreme Court had only last month asked the trial judge to complete the trial within four months.
It had also directed the investigating agency, the CBI, to meet Pinto’s medical expenses.