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British High Commission seeks consular access to Christian Michel

ANI/New Delhi [India] 06 Dec 18 | 11:20 AM

Agusta Westland scam accused middleman Michel Christian at CBI headquarters in New Delhi | Photo: PTI

The British High Commission has asked the Indian government for consular access to Christian Michel, sources said on Thursday. Michel is a British citizen and the alleged middleman in the Rs 36 billion AgustaWestland deal.

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The Indian Government has not responded to the British High Commission's latest request, the sources added.

Michel 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 Aljo K 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.

On Tuesday, the CBI had issued a statement saying: "Wanted fugitive criminal Christian Michel James who has been avoiding criminal proceedings in India in AgustaWestland Case is being extradited by UAE Authorities to India. Under the guidance of Ajit Doval, National Security Advisor (NSA), the entire operation is being coordinated by Incharge Director/CBI M. Nageswara Rao. A team lead by A. Sai Manohar, Joint Director/CBI has been to Dubai for the purpose."

The Rs 36 billion 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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