AgustaWestland scam: Christian Michel tells court he has not named anybody during ED interrogation
The alleged middleman’s counsel claimed the contents of the agency’s chargesheet were leaked to the media before it was provided to his client.
Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper deal, on Friday told a Delhi court that he has not named anybody in connection with the scam during interrogation by the Enforcement Directorate, PTI reported.
Michel filed a plea in court after the Enforcement Directorate alleged in a supplementary chargesheet on Thursday that kickbacks were paid to defence officials, bureaucrats, mediapersons and important political leaders of the “then-ruling party” in the case. The probe agency added that Christian Michel James, the alleged middleman arrested in the case, identified abbreviations like “AP’’ as Ahmed Patel and “Fam’’ as Family. “As per Christian Michel James [the alleged middleman arrested in the case], ‘AP’ means [Congress leader] Ahmed Patel and ‘’Fam’’ means Family,” it said.
“Michel has not named anyone in his statement before the agency which is being leaked to media,” the alleged middleman’s counsel Aljo K Joseph said. “This is only to make the matter sensational and prejudice the case against my client.” Joseph also claimed that the copy of the chargesheet was leaked to the media even before it was provided to Michel, or the court could take cognisance of it.
The plea alleged that selective portions of the chargesheet have been published in the media, and claimed this proved that the Enforcement Directorate was not interested in a fair trial. “The ED is making mockery of the judicial process resulting in complete travesty of justice,” it added.
Special Judge Arvind Kumar issued a notice to the central agency seeking its reply, and said he would take up the matter on Saturday.
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. Christian Michel, who was extradited to India from the United Arab Emirates in January, is now lodged in Tihar Jail.
Jaitley demands answers from Rahul Gandhi
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley demanded that Congress President Rahul Gandhi break his silence on the matter.
“The Swiss police had searched the home of [alleged middleman] Guido Haschke’s mother,” Jaitley said at a press conference. “They found many emails, documents there. So what was the coincidence due to which even during the recoveries made in 2013 to find out who is being paid off in the case, alphabets like RG, AP, FAM appeared?”
Jaitley wondered how these initials were found both in documents recovered by the Swiss police and the files found by investigation agencies after the extradition of Michel.
Attacking Gandhi, Jaitley added: “Our Constitution and legal system has granted the right to silence to the person who is an accused in a case. It is not given to the individual who wants to become the prime minister of the country. This matter is now in the public domain. Are ‘RG’, ‘AP’ and ‘FAM’ imaginary individuals?”
“The more you suppress the truth, the more it spreads,” the Bharatiya Janata Party leader added. “So someone should answer as to who these people are. The initials are of those people who used to influence decision-making [in the United Progressive Alliance government]. The evidence is overwhelming. The needle of suspicion is clear.”