The Central Bureau of Investigation's inability to make Ottavio Quattrocchi, the prime accused in the Bofors payoffs case, stand trial in India came in for severe criticism on Thursday from a Delhi trial court, which attributed the defreezing of the Italian businessman's bank accounts and the agency's failure to extradite him to ''malafide'' intentions.
"I understand that several malafide (intentions) were there in defreezing of bank account (of Quattrocchi)", chief metropolitan magistrate Vinod Yadav said while hearing CBI's petition for permission to close criminal proceedings against the Italian.
Slamming the CBI for ''bias'' and not pursuing properly the extradition of Quattrocchi, the court said the agency's move to first withdraw the red corner notice against the Italian businessman and then seek withdrawal of his prosecution was like ''putting the cart before the horse''.
The judge also agreed with the contention of petitioner Ajay Aggarwal, who is opposing the CBI's move, that the agency bungled the attempt to extradite Quattrocchi from Argentina when he was held in February 2007 on an Interpol red corner notice.
''The point is well taken that the case was not fielded properly before the Argentinean court. Argentinean laws are different from Indian laws ... they (CBI) should have given documents supporting the gravity of crime. The thing which is heavily in my mind is that it's been 25 years," the magistrate said.
The court adjourned the matter till 10 February for further hearing while observing that it may eventually go to the Supreme Court. Querying the premier investigating agency approaching Interpol for the removal of the red corner notice against the Italian, the judge said, "The agency should have first waited to get the case withdrawn under Section 321 CrPC from the court and then gone to Interpol to withdraw RCN."