A Delhi court on Tuesday allowed the Enforcement Directorate to question British businessman Christian Michel, who is an accused in an alleged scam in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal, inside the Tihar jail.
Michel – who has been in the Tihar jail since December 19 – was extradited from Dubai on December 4, after the United Arab Emirates agreed to, allegedly in exchange for India returning runaway Dubai princess Sheikha Latifa. Michel’s family had threatened to approach the United Nations over this.
Special Judge Arvind Kumar on Tuesday allowed the Enforcement Directorate’s petition and also asked the Tihar jail authorities to produce reports based on which Michel was shifted to a high-security ward, PTI reported.
The court had told the prison officials on Monday to produce him in court the next day after he claimed that he faced mental torture after being transferred to an isolated cell. The court had said that it will launch an inquiry if the prison officials do not give a proper response.
Michel told the court on Tuesday that Rakesh Asthana, a former special director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, had threatened him in Dubai. Asthana had told him that his life will be “made hell” if he does not toe the agency’s line in the AgustaWestland investigation, Michel claimed.
“Sometime back Rakesh Asthana met me in Dubai and threatened that my life would be made hell and that’s what is going on,” PTI quoted Michel as saying. “My next door inmate is [gangster] Chotta Rajan...I don’t understand what crime I have committed to be put along with those who have killed several people.” About 16-17 Kashmiri separatists are in his ward, he added.
The former Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government had signed the Rs 3,565-crore helicopter deal in 2010 with the British-Italian firm AgustaWestland. The deal was put on hold after Italy arrested the head of Finmeccanica, AgustaWestland’s parent company, on charges of paying bribes to win the contract. Michel is one of three suspected middlemen who Indian investigative agencies believe brokered the agreement.