New Delhi: Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, who was a suspect in the Bofors scam, has died in Milan after a heart attack on Friday night. Quattrocchi family has confirmed that the Bofors scam suspect had passed away.
The Bofors chargesheet filed in 1999 by CBI had named Quattrocchi, who was close to the Gandhi family during his days in India as the representative of an Italian firm, as one of the accused in the case regarding the Rs 64 crore payoffs for supply of Swedish Howitzer guns to the Indian Army. The Rs 1,600 crore contract was clinched in 1986.
But on March 4, 2011, a Tis Hazari court in New Delhi discharged Quattrocchi from the payoffs case after allowing the CBI to withdraw prosecution against him, bringing to an end a major chapter in the 25-year-old Bofors saga. An application for withdrawal of the case agains Quattrocchi was filed by the public prosecutor on October 3, 2009.
The CBI had unsuccessfully tried to extradite Quattrocchi to India but it lost two extradition appeals, first in Malaysia in 2002, and then in Argentina in 2007. Quattrochi left India in 1993 to avoid being arrested.
Defence minister AK Antony recently said the government does not plan to launch any fresh probe into the Bofors scandal and that Quattrocchi stands "discharged" as he could not be extradited even after 20 years of registration of the case.
Former CBI director Jodinger Singh said, "The CBI faced a lot of pressure to drop the case. CBI never wanted to drop the case."
In the late 1980s, opposition parties accused the Gandhi family for its role in the Bofors guns deal, saying the Sonia Gandhi and rest of the family knew Quattrocchi personally and had favoured the Italian businessman.
The BJP had said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia were behind the removal of the warrant, saying the Congress was making personal favours during its last days of governance. The Gandhi's deny the BJP's charges.
With Additional Inputs From PTI