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New Delhi: Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi, who was a key figure in the Bofors scandal, has died in Milan following a stroke.

Quattrocchi, 74, died peacefully on Friday and his funeral will take place on Monday, a member of the family said over the phone from the Italian city.

The Bofors chargesheet filed in 1999 by the Central Bureau of Investigation (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 64 crore payoffs for supply of Swedish Howitzer guns to the Indian Army. The 1,600 crore contract was clinched in 1986.

But on 4 March 2011, a Delhi court 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 against Quattrocchi was filed by the public prosecutor on 3 October 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 A.K. 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.

Antony had told Parliament that Quattrocchi had left India on 29-30 July 1993, before CBI had “any material evidence warranting his arrest" in the Bofors case. The scandal had cost Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress party the 1989 general election. PTI

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