The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mahathir rush to clear Bofors air

Kuala Lumpur, Dec. 11 (PTI): The extradition of Ottavio Quattrocchi, accused in the Bofors scam, depends on the court’s verdict, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad today said following reports that Italian counterpart Silvio Berlusconi had urged him to intervene in the businessman’s favour.

“The Italian Prime Minister has the right to write to me. He has the right to speak to me but what is important is that the decision is not made by me. It is made by the court,” Mohamad said when asked about reports in the Indian media.

The remarks came close on the heels of a Malaysian high court decision to reserve its judgment till Friday on Quattrocchi’s extradition. India wants the Italian to stand trial in the Bofors payoff case.

Justice Augustine Paul of Kuala Lumpur High Court reserved the verdict after arguments were concluded today on an Indian appeal against a Malaysian lower court decision rejecting the extradition plea.

“If the judgment is in favour of my client, he will be free to leave,” said Quattrocchi’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah. “We then will immediately request the Interpol to lift the red corner alert notice against him.”

Deputy public prosecutor Kamarulhisham Kamaruddin, who represented the Malaysian attorney general’s office for India, said: “If the ruling is not in our favour, we will examine the possibilities to challenge the order.”

Quattrocchi has been living in Malaysia since the early 1990s and has always claimed the case against him was politically motivated because of his friendship with the family of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

India urged Malaysia to start extradition proceedings against the businessman on its behalf two years ago. But the two countries have not signed an extradition treaty.

A Malaysian sessions court turned down the ejection plea, returned Quattrocchi’s passport and granted him bail. Shafee told the high court that India had failed to frame charges against his client and that even the arrest warrant against him was “faulty”.

“The statement regarding cheating is even more vague. I, therefore, urge the court to confirm the decision given by the session court judge Akhtar Tahir,” he argued. When lawyers representing India asked Paul to rule that the Italian surrender his passport, he said: “I have full confidence in the integrity of this (Quattrocchi) man.”

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