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Make efforts to get Quattrocchi back: UPA

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Left parties have asked the UPA government to make all efforts to get Ottavio Quattrocchi back to India to stand trial in the Bofors case.

"The UPA government must make all efforts with the Argentinean government to ensure that Quattrocchi is extradited to India," the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau said in a statement.

The CPI (M) statement said Quattrocchi’s detention in Argentina had "provided an opportunity to bring him to India to face the investigation and trial in the Bofors case".

CPI national secretary D Raja wanted the government to take up the matter with Buenos Aires to give some credibility to the extradition request since the two countries did not have an extradition treaty in place.

"If he is innocent, he should offer himself to appear before any of the investigating agency or the court of law to prove his point," Raja said, questioning why the Italian businessman had been evading coming to India.

Quattrocchi had fought a long legal battle in Malaysian courts that initially rejected India’s extradition request in December 2002. A superior Malaysian court later ordered impounding his passport on a CBI appeal but it came long after Quattrocchi had already left the country. The CBI had, however, used this order to convince Interpol not to take down the Red Corner notice that caught up with the Bofors accused in Argentina this month.

AIADMK chief Jayalalithaa also joined the Left in this demand, emphasising that the government take immediate steps in this regard. Jayalalithaa, however, also went ahead to accuse the Congress-led government, saying the Centre was keen to help Quattrocchi escape from law.

"Neither the Centre nor the CBI has moved an inch to make a formal extradition request to Argentina," the AIADMK chief said in a statement released in Chennai, pointing to the government keeping Quattrocchi’s detention under wraps for 18 days. She warned that if the government allowed Quattrocchi to go free, "the Congress party will soon discover that time will be running out for it too".