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'Rulings in India basis for defence'

Quattrocchi's lawyer says judgements given in India in the Bofors cases will form the basis for his clients defence.

india Updated:
Rebecca Wright
Rebecca Wright

The judgements given in India in the Bofors cases and the failed extradition attempt in Malaysia will form the basis for the defence of Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi should the extradition case initiated against him by the CBI proceeds to a hearing, his Argetinian lawyer Alejandro Freeland has said.

Freeland, who claimed that both he and Quattrocchi are "confounded" at the turn of events that resulted in the Bofors-accused's arrest in Argentina told that he has not been contacted by the CBI, nor had access to the papers that have been supplied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here in Buenos Aires.

He, however, has been researching past precedents in cases involving the Bofors arms deal and believes that "there is significant evidence that the case being brought against Quattrocchi is based on fictitious events, this view being supported by a judge in the New Delhi High Court in rulings in 2004 and 2005 during the Hindujas brothers' Bofors trial."

"It is likely that these cases, and the failed Malaysian extradition attempt will form the basis of Quattrocchi's defence should the case proceed to a hearing," he said.

According to Freeland, Quattrocchi was a resident "in India until 1993, seven years after the Bofors disposal, and was never questioned or approached by the CBI during this time. Following the last extradition attempt in Malaysia in 1997 Quattrocchi returned to Italy and again, no attempt was made by the CBI to begin extradition proceedings there."

Freeland is also unaware of any new evidence being brought by the CBI and expects it is the same evidence that the CBI supplied for the Malaysian extradition hearing, nor is he aware of the charges being laid against his client.

Asked what he thought was likely to happen next, Freeland said that he and his client are hopeful that the CBI case will be thrown out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but if the case does proceed, his client could be held in Argentina for anywhere between one to six months.

Asked about Quattrocchi's treatment in Argentina, Freeland said that Quattrocchi has been treated as well as the circumstances allow, and received "very good support" from the Italian embassy here in Buenos Aires.

The Italian embassy has even supplied references to the Argentinian courts, vouching for Quattrocchi's character, helping to secure his bail.

Quattrocchi is tired, annoyed and in questionable health, he said.

Freeland did not know what Quattrocchi's current employment status is, saying only that he was a "very active man". His is also here in Argentina and is expected to stay for the duration of the proceedings.

When asked how he came to be representing Quattrocchi, Freeland said that he was put in contact with Quattrocchi by a mutual business associate of his, who is a personal friend of Quattrocchi's.

Indian Ambassador to Argentina, Pramathesh Rath, had said on Friday that the CBI team met with the panel of lawyers chosen by the embassy to represent them at the extradition hearings.

They are currently consulting New Delhi on their preference for counsel here in Argentina and expect to have a decision on legal representation in the next couple of days.

Under Argentinian law it is necessary for the CBI to be represented by local counsel, and Rath says it is now a matter of waiting and seeing what decision the Ministry of Foreign Affairs comes back with.

First Published: Mar 03, 2007 11:08 IST