New Delhi, July 11: Abu Salem will remain in India and face trial here as the government is under no obligation to send him back to Portugal, CBI officials said today.
“Legal advice from Lisbon states that India is under no obligation to extradite Abu Salem back to Portugal,” said a CBI officer.
Yesterday, Portugal’s top court — the Constitutional Court — had turned down India’s plea challenging the order of its Supreme Court cancelling the gangster’s extradition. The Constitutional Court held that India had no jurisdiction to challenge a Portuguese court order.
“But in its order, the Constitutional Court observed that India was not obliged to extradite the gangster back to the European country despite holding that there was a violation of deportation rules by the Indian authorities,” the officer said.
According to him, the Constitutional Court’s judges made it clear that the ruling of the lower court, which acknowledged violation of the extradition treaty, did not oblige India to send Salem back.
Another CBI officer said the Indian authorities were in touch with their lawyers in Portugal. “A possible negotiation with the Portuguese government is also on the cards and we are exploring all available legal options in the light of the Constitutional Court order. India and Portugal are in a position of co-operation and not confrontation,” he said.
CBI sources said one of the options suggested by the lawyers was that India could furnish a fresh guarantee iterating a commitment it had made earlier that Salem would not be given the death penalty or a jail term exceeding 25 years.
Mumbai and Delhi police have slapped charges on him carrying the death penalty. These include the 1993 Mumbai blasts.
In September 2010, the Indian Supreme Court had held that Salem, brought to India in 2005, could be tried for offences inviting the death penalty despite the extradition condition because India and Portugal were signatories to an international pact to eliminate terror.