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A Delhi court on Saturday directed Tihar jail authorities to ensure safety to Christian Michel, the middleman accused in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal but denied separate cell to Michel in Tihar jail.

The court gave the order on Michel’s plea seeking separate cell in Tihar jail.

At today’s hearing, Enforcement Directorate (ED) sought remand of Michel for 15 days but court denied it. However, it allowed ED to interrogate Michel for 15 minutes in court’s premises.

ED said money laundering aspect has to be investigated as it has come through Hawala Transactions and not through official channel. Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) said: “They need to confront Christian Michel with some witnesses who are not CBI witnesses & this is the only time we can do it.”

“We have to first cover that gap Michel has invested scores of crores in property in Delhi. We have some leads on which we want to confront him. We have some witnesses and co-accused with whom we have to confront him. The channel of money– both to and from need to be unearthed Because both involve Hawala. The trail of money and the laundered money are both important. This is only within this domain that there is a melting point between Hascke, Khaitan and Michel which needs to be investigated. We had to issue a open ended non bailable warrant. We had to initiate extradition proceedings. We need his custody to answer several questions,” SPP added.

Opposing the arguments of SSP, Michel’s Counsel said: “He was in the CBI custody for 15 days however no efforts were made for joint interrogation. It is a prolonged detention and custody is illegal. Audit of all bank accounts will be filed and nothing wrong was found.”

Court will deliver it’s order on the bail application as well as the ED application seeking custody at 4 pm today

“…in the instant case, it is the right to be kept in a separate cell to avoid scandalous remarks by inmates who interact or claim to have interacted with the accused. The protection from such statements or remarks is also a facet of the right to defend (which in turn is an embodiment of Article 21 according to the decision in Francis Corallie Mullin) submits the accused,” Michel said in the plea.

—India Legal Bureau

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