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CBIís Monica Bedi hopes soar

New Delhi, Oct. 9: Portugalís supreme court has rekindled the CBIís hopes of bringing underworld don Abu Salemís wife to justice in India by staying a trial court order that refused to extradite Monica Bedi.

A senior CBI officer said Portugalís highest court had stayed the trial court order two weeks ago and directed it to start the case afresh.

Salem, wanted in the 1993 Bombay blasts case, as well as extortion and murder cases, was arrested with Monica in Lisbon on September 18 last year following an Interpol red corner notice issued at the CBIís behest.

They were also held on charges of staying in the country on the basis of forged documents. These documents would have enabled them to marry locals in order to obtain residence permits.

Last July, the CBI filed an appeal before the apex court through Portugalís prosecutor-general, challenging the lower courtís decision to dismiss its extradition request.

The lower court had said Monica was being tried in Portugal on charges of possessing forged documents. It added that there was no reason to extradite the former Bollywood actress since she had committed a similar offence in India,

The Portuguese government formally wrote to India in July informing it about the trial court's decision.

In its appeal, the CBI said Monica had obtained two passports, from Hyderabad and Bhopal, by using forged documents and under assumed names Ė Sana Malik Kamal and Fauzia Usma, among others. It argued that the two crimes were different, with the Indian offences being more serious in nature.

The supreme courtís move comes as a relief to CBI officials. They are optimistic that Monica will be extradited this time since the apex court has reacted favourably to the evidence the bureau has provided against the actress.

Sources said extradition proceedings against Monica have already begun in the trial court.

CBI officials said extradition proceedings against Salem were almost over and a court decision is expected this month.

Even so, Salem and Monica will be tried in Portugal first for the offences committed there. The couple will be handed to India if the court orders so. But it will be a while before the CBI can be certain that they are headed India-wards.

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