The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Junior officer on Q mission

New Delhi, Feb. 27: On a day the Prime Minister said the CBI has been given “the fullest possible freedom” on the Ottavio Quattrocchi issue, the agency decided to send a junior officer to try and bring back the Italian businessman.

Keshaw Mishra, who climbed the ladder to reach the level of superintendent of police, is all set to leave for Buenos Aires tomorrow. Mishra will head a team of two — the other member holds the post of director, prosecution.

Generally, a senior officer is sent abroad in sensitive cases, as in 2002 when joint-director Neeraj Kumar left for Dubai to get Aftab Ansari, accused of attacking the American Center in Calcutta, deported.

The CBI’s argument is that Mishra is well versed with the case as he has been associated with it for a long time. It is also learnt that many senior officers backed out because the case is politically volatile.

In Argentina, authorities impounded Quattrocchi’s passport, a day after the Bofors accused was given bail but told not to leave the country. The CBI said Argentine authorities had said they would take a minimum 15 days to process the extradition request.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today broke his silence on allegations of a “cover-up”, saying the government is pursuing the extradition with “utmost urgency”.

“I solemnly affirm to the public at large that this government has done nothing wrong. The CBI has been allowed the fullest possible freedom to go about its business and the rule of law will prevail,” he said.

Minister for personnel Suresh Pachouri told Parliament the CBI has secured a fresh non-bailable warrant against the Italian businessman from a Delhi court.

Under Argentine law, an extradition request cannot be made without a warrant.

The government also admitted that the CBI knew about Quattrocchi’s detention on February 8, four days before a related matter came up in the Supreme Court.

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