Several top-secret documents from the Indian Defence Ministry had been seized from the hard disk of AgustaWestland computers and from middlemen Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, it emerged from the trial, which resumed on Monday, of Giuseppe Orsi, former CEO of Italian armaments giant Finmeccanica and Bruno Spagnolini, who headed AgustaWestland.
The documents seized contained details of bids made by competitors of AgustaWestland and gave information about how ceiling specifications of the helicopters purchased by India were changed from 6,000 metres to 5,000 metres, the Public Prosecutor told the court.
These details were contained in some 70 documents extracted from the hard disk of AgustaWestland helicopters, Prosecutor Eugenio Fosco said.
In a separate aside, sources close to the defence of the two main accused indicated that India’s CBI was “doing nowhere enough” to unearth the Indian side of the graft scandal that involved former Air Chief Shashi Tyagi and his cousins, Julie, Docsa and Sandip Tyagi. They also suggested that there was evidence in the case that implicated persons placed “much above” Air Marshal Tyagi.
Mr. Orsi was arrested on charges of international corruption, bribery and billing fraud over the sale of 12 AgustaWestland helicopters to India and spent 80 days in preventive detention.
Mr Spagnolini faces similar charges. In all, two Swiss middlemen, Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa were paid commissions totalling some 56 million Euros through an elaborate system of fake billing using fictitious IT companies based in Mauritius and Tunisia.
“No move has been made yet by Indian authorities to arrest any of the Tyagi brothers despite the fact that India has now become a civil party to the trial,” sources said.
The prosecution scored several points against defence lawyers who tried to argue that certain types of wire taps, especially those of calls made from foreign vehicles and foreign telephones outside Italian territory, should not be admitted as evidence in the trial.
Toni Adet Novik, the presiding judge who headed a Bench of three, after a long recess, decided that the wiretaps could in fact be submitted as evidence.
Professor Ennio Amodio, who was also lawyer of late Ottavio Quattrochi of Bofors fame, acting for Mr. Orsi, told The Hindu that he had raised three principal objections on the issue of admitting wiretaps as evidence. “We maintained that there are a great deal of errors and bias and have asked the court not to admit conversations between Mr. Haschke and other gentlemen. In our view this is very important,” Professor Amodio said before the court reconvened to announce its decision to admit the evidence.
According to Professor Ammodio there has been “an abuse of process because the prosecution carried out wiretaps on a car belonging to a Swiss national, Guido Haschke, while the car he was travelling in was outside Italian territory. So there was a problem of jurisdiction. If the judge admits our plea, then all the conversations between Mr. Haschke and our client will have to be set aside, become inadmissible as evidence.”
Unfortunately for Professor Ammodio and Advocate Bassi, representing Bruno Spagnoglini, the judge did not accept the arguments of the defence.
There are four legal processes underway against Guido Haschke: one in Switzerland, another in India, a third in Italy and the fourth by the Serious Fraud Office in Britain. Mr. Haschke has both Italian and American nationality and can be extradited to Italy. However, Swiss authorities say they would like to try him first. Carlo Gerosa, being Italian and Swiss, cannot be extradited because the Swiss government refuses to extradite its own nationals.
“There is enough evidence in the file to swing several cats and fat cats too,” a source close to the trial told this correspondent. The prosecution gave a CD containing 70-odd documents extracted from the hard disk of AgustaWestland computers. The CD contains details of addresses and emails exchanged between the various protagonists and other incriminating evidence, it was learnt. Contrary to certain media reports, the proceedings did not discuss the presentation of witnesses and the name of Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony was not mentioned. The trial resumes on 17 September.