Congress rattled after Christian Michel’s extradition : BJP

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New Delhi : The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday said that the Congress was rattled after the extradition of AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel and the family in the party is getting sleepless nights.

Addressing a press conference here, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “The Congress is rattled after the extradition of Christian Michel. They sent their team to save Michel. Congress’ Aljo Joseph appeared for him in Court, they later went through the charade of removing him. The family in Congress is getting sleepless nights.”

Patra alleged that other than Aljo Joseph, there are two other lawyers of Michel – Vishnu Shankar who is the son of a Kerala Congress leader and Sriram Parakkat who has been a National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) member.

“All three have worked under big Congress lawyers like Salman Khurshid and Kapil Sibal,” he added.

The British High Commission has asked the Indian government for consular access to Michel, sources said on Thursday. India has also received a request for consular access and is examining the matter. Earlier on Wednesday, government sources revealed that the Indian government is ready to provide consular access to the United Kingdom High Commission for Christian Michel.

The government sources had said, “We are ready to provide consular access to the UK High Commission for Christian Michel. We have no objections. However, the UK High Commission has not yet approached the Ministry of External Affairs for this. Due process will have to be followed. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will have no objections.”

Michel, a British citizen and the alleged middleman in the Rs 3600 crore AgustaWestland deal, was extradited to Delhi from UAE on Tuesday night and a court here on Wednesday remanded him to five-day Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) custody.

During the hearing, Special Public Prosecutor Advocate DP Singh appeared for the CBI and asked for a 14-day custody of Michel for a thorough probe. Michel’s counsel Joseph had opposed it and had also moved a bail plea for Michel.

The court kept the bail plea pending for next hearing and allowed Michel’s counsel one hour each in the morning and evening for consultancy.

According to CBI sources, Michel complained of anxiety during questioning by CBI and subsequently, he was given medicine.

The Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VIP helicopter deal, finalised during the previous government of Manmohan Singh, had got mired in allegations of kickbacks.

According to the Enforcement Directorate charge sheet filed in a court 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.

CBI had filed charge sheet in a trial court on September 1, 2017, against Christian and 11 other accused persons. The trial court took cognizance of the offences on October 11, 2017. CBI’s request for extradition was forwarded to the UAE authorities on March 19, last year through diplomatic channels.

Extradition proceedings were held before UAE Court against Christian on the extradition request of CBI. Vide order dated November 19, 2018, the Court of Dubai upheld the lower court decision for possibility of extraditing Christian to Indian authorities. Accordingly, Christian was extradited to face legal proceedings.

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