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PM defends CBI's move, says Q case had become an `embarrassment' for govt
Posted on: 03-05-2009 , 04:: | DY365 Bureau

from its wanted list and withdrawal of an Interpol Red Corner Notice against him by saying the case had become an "embarrassment" for the government.

"It is not a good reflection on the Indian legal system that we harass people while the world says we have no case," said the PM breaking his silence on the Quattrocchi case. His remarks to a TV channel, even as trial court proceedings are still on, amount to a virtual exoneration of Quattrocchi who has been on the run from CBI for more than a decade, and confirms government's keenness to wind up the Bofors probe.

"Quattrocchi case is an embarrassment for the government of India -- we tried to extradite him from Malaysia...from Argentina -- and the courts said we don't have a strong case. Before the matter was referred, Interpol asked India why do you want to keep him under a RCN -- the law minister referred to AG who gave advice that it should be lifted," the PM said.

The remarks came just after CBI, acting in concert with the government, told the Interpol to take Quattrocchi off its "wanted" list, and confirmed the CBI's statement that it was still looking for ways to bring the Bofors fugitive back, did not mean anything.

Both BJP and CPM attacked Singh for his statement. Sudheendra Kulkarni, senior BJP functionary, said that the PM's statement was outrageous. Coming after government's role in the de-freezing of Quattrocchi's bank account and CBI's communication to the Interpol that it was no longer interested in the fugitive Bofors accused completed the "government-assisted acquittal of the fugitive without trial and an endorsement of his charge that judiciary in India was not fair".

CPM's Brinda Karat also attacked the  prime minister. "It is shameful for the Prime Minister to defend the indefensible," said the member of the CPM politburo.

The CBI is administratively under the department of personnel and training which is under the PM's charge at present. Though CBI is supposedly an autonomous organisation, its U-turns in the Bofors case are not devoid of government backing or even prodding. In the case of the CBI clean chit to former minister Jagdish Tytler in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots cases, PMO had put out that Singh had not been in the know.

While law enforcement agencies can sometime fail to nab an accused due to lack of evidence, witnessess or procedural wrangles, the PM's view that the Italian was being in fact "harassed" flies against CBI's painstaking investigations that tracked the Bofors money trail. A part of the money was tracked to Quattrocchi's London accounts which were defrozen in 2006.

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