A Special Court in Delhi on Monday extended the CBI custody of Christian Michel the alleged middleman in the Rs 3600 crore AugustaWestland Chopper scam for another five days. The British national who was arrested in Dubai and brought to India last week was not coperating with the investigations, the investigating agency told the court adding, “we need to confront him with LR (letters rogatory) that have been received from five countries”.
Michel was brought to the Patiala House court amidst tight security as his initial five-day remand came to an end on Monday. The CBI had sought extension of remand for remand of nine days for custodial interrogation.
Michel’s counsel Eljo Joseph argued against custody saying it was just torture and since Michel was a British national, he had written to the British High Commission about the plight of its national in jail. CBI agreed to give British High Commission access to and said, “We have already been approached by British counsellors. We have allowed their plea of keeping their own counsel.”
Michel was originally sent to five days CBI custody on December 5 a day after he was flown in from Dubai and produced before a special CBI court here. Special Public Prosecutor Advocate DP Singh appeared for the CBI in the special court. The CBI counsel had initially asked for 14 days custody of Michel stating that they needed his custody to confront him with some important documents. Michel’s counsel Joseph, however, opposed it.
The Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VIP helicopter deal, finalised during the previous government of Manmohan Singh, had got mired in allegations of kickbacks. The 54-year-old Michel is an accused in the case along with some others including former Air Chief SP Tyagi.
According to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) chargesheet filed in a court here two years back, Michel had received kickbacks to the tune of 30 million Euros from AgustaWestland for the deal involving a purchase of 12 VIP helicopters. The deal, signed in 2007, was scrapped in 2013 following the bribery allegations.
—India Legal Bureau