| Quattrocchi at the Kuala Lumpur court. (AFP)
Kuala Lumpur, Dec. 4 (PTI): A In yet another jolt to attempts to seek the extradition of Ottavio Quattrocchi in the Bofors case, a Malaysian high court today disallowed Indian lawyers from joining local prosecutors during hearing of an appeal tomorrow.
Judge Augustine Paul ruled against an Indian government counsel holding a “watching brief”.
Paul gave the ruling while adjourning the hearing till tomorrow on a appeal by Malaysian authorities against a lower court decision on Monday rejecting India’s plea for extraditing Quattrocchi to stand trial in India.
The 64-year-old Italian businessman has been directed to stay in Malaysia till the case is over. But Paul said he could not restrain Quattrocchi’s movements for the “incompetence” of the Malaysian attorney-general’s office that is representing the Indian government.
The two sides are expected to forward their arguments within a day, the judge said, adding: “Speed should be the essence.”
“You are representing the Government of India. Do you want to be watched' The government has entrusted the case in able hands,” Paul told deputy public prosecutor Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin. “There should be no watching brief,” he added.
Quattrocchi’s lawyer Muhammad Shafee described the ruling as a “blow to the Indian government”.
Paul admonished counsels from the attorney-general’s office for not having come prepared to argue the case after filing the review application. “I am adjourning the case entirely to accommodate you,” he said.
On the argument that India had a counsel to watch the briefing in the sessions court, the judge said: “What has been done in other courts cannot be a passport in this case.”
Kamarul requested postponement on the hearing because the attorney-general’s office was preparing legal documents to allow Indian government counsel Cyrus Das to conduct the review application. “The fiat is being prepared but Mr Das is away in Australia,” he said.
“Why should we delay the proceedings'” argued Shafee. “It is the liberty of Quattrocchi at stake. He has been discharged and freed but has agreed to stay on for the revision process. He plans to leave the country by this weekend.
“His daughter is hospitalised and having a difficult pregnancy,” he said.
Quattrocchi said he was “very pleased” with the Malaysian sessions court’s decision, rejecting the plea for his extradition to India. “I have full faith in the Malaysian judicial system and am confident that justice will be granted. Yes, I am very pleased with the decision of the sessions court. However, I will have to wait until the final outcome on Thursday.”
“I would like to visit my family and relatives and come back to Malaysia. I like the country,” Quattrocchi said. “My youngest daughter is having her first baby, I want to visit her.”
His wife, Maria Quattrocchi, said: “We can just pray that all this ordeal ends tomorrow.”
“The whole case reeks of political motivation,” said Shafee.