The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Ottavio offers Italy date, CBI sneers

New Delhi, Jan. 16: Ottavio Quattrocchi today broke his silence to claim that he was a victim of a political campaign being waged against the Gandhi family and expressed willingness to be questioned by the CBI in Italy.

In a statement faxed to PTI from Milan, Quattrocchi said that since the CBI had no evidence linking his London bank accounts with Bofors, the case against him should end now.

Later, he told the news agency over phone that he was willing to be examined by the CBI in Italy.

“The CBI questioned others named in the case such as the Hindujas and Win Chaddha outside India. I am willing to be subjected to similar questioning,” he said.

Sources in the CBI, however, described his offer to be questioned abroad as meaningless.

“His assertion that he can be questioned in Italy has no meaning for us. In fact, the CBI has no jurisdiction outside Indian territory. The legal position is that the only way to question Quattrocchi is to extradite him to India,” said a senior CBI official.

The sources added that a parallel cannot be drawn between Quattrocchi and either the Hindujas or Chaddha. The Hindujas and Chaddha, who were questioned in London and Dubai, respectively, had NRI status.

“The same is not true in the case of Quattrocchi. He cannot even be extradited from Italy as the person to be extradited has to give his consent and only then the authorities there will allow it,” the CBI official said.

In his statement, Quattrocchi said: “The case has been probed for almost 20 years by the CBI, the leading investigating agency well-connected worldwide, and no proof has been found to link me with Bofors”.

In a veiled reference to the BJP, Quattrocchi said: “I am the victim of a political campaign waged by a political party against the Gandhi family.”

On the debate raging over the defreezing of his accounts in a London bank, he said: “As the CBI, after almost three years, was not in a position to show evidence of any wrongdoing on my part, the UK authorities were left with no option but to defreeze my accounts. I believe this is the least that could have been done.”

He said he was “pained” at the “disinformation” carried out by a section of the Indian press, which “fails to report full facts of the story concerning the case”. Some newspapers seem to have forgotten that between 2000 and 2003, he had won all court wars waged by the CBI for his extradition from Malaysia, Quattrocchi added.

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