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India: Bofors Deep Throat reveals identity, implicates former PM in coverup

Former Swedish police chief says there was no evidence Rajiv Gandhi was involved in bribery, but former PM aided in coverup
India bofors deep throatEnlarge
A May 21, 1991 file photo shows Rajiv Gandhi being greeted as he arrives to make an address during his election campaign moments before he was killed by a suicide bomber in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu State. The suspected Tamil guerrilla assassin is in the bottom left corner with flowers on her head. (AFP/Getty Images)

The anonymous "Deep Throat" in India's 30-year-old Bofors defense scandal finally revealed himself as former Swedish police chief Sten Lindstrom and implicated former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the attempt to cover up the kickbacks-for-contracts scheme.

Lindstrom offered an exclusive interview to Chitra Subramaniam-Duella, the journalist who originally exposed the scandal with the aid of some 350 documents that Lindstrom leaked to him in 1987, which ran on an Indian media-insider web site, thehoot.org.

Virtually every major Indian newspaper followed with excerpts from the interview on their front pages Wednesday.

Apart from the revelation of his identity, Lindstrom probably didn't tell Indians anything they didn't know or at least strongly suspect. Most significantly, Lindstrom asserted that the Swedish authorities never uncovered any evidence that Rajiv was involved in the alleged bribery case, in which he and several other senior Congress Party leaders were accused of receiving kickbacks from Bofors AB for winning a bid to supply India's 155 mm field howitzer.

However, Lindstrom said that Gandhi was complicit in the attempted coverup of the alleged involvement of Ottavio Quattrocchi, an Italian businessman with close ties to the Gandhi family who was accused of acting as middleman in negotiating the alleged bribe.

Lindstrom also dismissed rumors that Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan had played a role in the bribery scandal, saying that Indian police had planted that story in the Swedish media at the time of the case.

Though the money involved looks small today, the Bofors scandal was the largest corruption case India had ever confronted when it was revealed in the late 1980s. It led directly to the fall of the Congress Party government, and, in some ways, may have marked the beginning of the end of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty's unchallenged supremacy in Indian politics.

The Delhi High Court dismissed the charges of bribery against Rajiv Gandhi and others accused in the case in 2004, but other lesser charges are still to be ajudicated.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/india/india-bofors-deep-throat