The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Silence, for a fortnight

New Delhi, Feb. 23: For a whole fortnight since February 9, the Centre has been sitting on highly sensitive information sent by India’s ambassador to Argentina, Pramathesh Rath, on the detention of Ottavio Quattrocchi.

The information has since been deemed so sensitive by New Delhi that it has still not sent any reply, neither to the Indian embassy in Buenos Aires nor to the Argentinian government, on the course of action that should be followed.

On February 9, the authorities in Buenos Aires informed the Indian ambassador that they had held Quattrocchi in Misiones, a tiny province with a famed waterfall, in accordance with the red corner notice issued by Interpol. On the same day, Rath informed New Delhi that Quattrocchi was under detention.

The Indian embassy also told the external affairs ministry here that under Argentinian law, Quattrocchi could be placed under detention for 30 days, extendable by 10 days.

Highly-placed sources in the government said that although there was no extradition treaty with Argentina, they were “sure” that Buenos Aires would consider handing Quattrocchi over to New Delhi “if only the Indian authorities asked for him”. Rath was unavailable for comment in Buenos Aires.

The sources said there was “very little chance” of the Italian businessman getting bail right now as he had been arrested on the Interpol red corner notice. They added that authorities in Argentina had provided him with a lawyer.

According to rules in Argentina, in the absence of an extradition treaty with another country, “assistance will be subject to the existence or offer of reciprocity”.

However, extradition cannot proceed if “the motivating crime is a political offence”, it shows a political purpose, death penalty is involved and the subject fears that he will be tortured.

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