Agusta Westland : Christian Michel Passing Chits To Lawyers Seeking Tips To Tackle Interrogation, ED Tells CBI Court
The Enforcement Directorate on Saturday told a Delhi court that alleged middleman Christian Michel, arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, was misusing the liberty of legal assistance during his interrogation by passing chits to his lawyers asking how to tackle questions on Congress leader Sonia Gandhi.
In the remand application, the CBI submitted that Michel's access to legal assistance be curtailed.
Michel is represented by lawyers Aljo K Joseph, Sriram Parakkat and Vishnu Shankar.
The custody application was opposed by the counsel for Michel on the ground that he was in custody for a long time and sufficient time was granted to complete investigation. It was further submitted that Michel was suffering from dyslexia, and hence subjecting him to interrogation for hours amounted to harassment.
Rejecting the submissions of defence counsel, the CBI Court extended Michel's ED custody by seven days. The Court also added that the defence counsel shall be "at a distance" and restricted legal assistance only to 15 minutes in the morning at 10 am and evening at 5 pm.
The ED said that his custodial interrogation was necessary to unearth the larger conspiracy in the case.
Michel, who was extradited from Dubai recently, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on December 22 and sent to seven days custody of the agency over money laundering charges in the scam after he was produced in a court here.
He was earlier lodged in Tihar Jail in the related CBI case.
Michel was arrested in the UAE and extradited to India on December 4.
Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.
Both the agencies notified an Interpol red corner notice (RCN) against him after the court issued a non-bailable warrant against him.
The court had earlier extended the CBI custody of Michel on the ground that he needed to be confronted with various documents in the case.
The CBI had said that he was required to be taken to the premises of Pawan Hans India Ltd in Mumbai to verify his version of his alleged attempted negotiations to buy back WG-30 helicopters, to identify the shipper and to confront the officials of Pawan Hans India.
The agency said that voluminous documents have been received from various countries pursuant to the 'Letter of Requests' and the accused was yet to be confronted with a number of them.
The CBI has alleged there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (about Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth Euro 556.262 million.
The ED, in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he received EUR 30 million (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland.
(With PTI inputs)