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Christian Michel says he didn’t name anyone in connection with VVIP Chopper deal

Christian Michel, a key accused and alleged middleman in the VVIP chopper deal case, is pictured inside a police vehicle outside a New Delhi court on December 5, 2018.

Christian Michel, a key accused and alleged middleman in the VVIP chopper deal case, is pictured inside a police vehicle outside a New Delhi court on December 5, 2018.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS

His counsel Aljo K. Joseph claims that copy of the charge sheet was provided to the media before it was provided to his client.

Christian Michel, the alleged middleman who was arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam case, told a Delhi court on April 5 that he did not name anybody in connection with the deal during investigation by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which has filed a supplementary charge sheet.

Mr. Michel, who has alleged that the central government was using its agencies for political agenda, filed an application after news reports appeared that the ED in its charge sheet has named politicians of the previous United Progressive Alliance dispensation, defence personnel, bureaucrats and journalists as the beneficiaries of the controversial defence deal.

Mr. Michel’s counsel appeared with the application before Special Judge Arvind Kumar, who issued notice to the ED and sought its reply by April 6 when he will take up the matter.

Mr. Michel’s counsel Aljo K. Joseph said, “Michel has not named anyone in his statement before the agency which is being leaked to media. This is only to make the matter sensational and prejudice the case against my client.” He claimed that the copy of the charge sheet, which was filed on April 4, was provided to the media before it was provided to Mr. Michel. He has questioned as to how the charge sheet was leaked to the media even before its cognisance was taken by the court.

The plea said that trial by a judge and free and fair trial rights override media rights and the court could temporarily curtail the freedom of the media to ensure that. “The court is duty bound to balance it. Even to ensure a free and fair trail, the court can temporarily curtail the freedom of media to ensure free and fair trial,” the plea said.

At the time of filing the charge sheet, counsels for the accused had asked for copies of the charge sheet but it was objected to by the ED on the ground that the court has not yet taken cognisance of of the chargesheet, it said.

“Since this court is yet to take cognisance of the charge sheet, it appeared that the ED has clandestinely provided a copy of the same to the media houses which were publishing the same in instalments only to sensationalise the issue and prejudice the accused named therein even before cognisance was taken by this court,” the plea claimed.

It said that selective portions of the charge sheet had been published in the media, making it clear that the ED was not interested in a fair trial in a court of law but in a trial by media. “The ED is making a mockery of the judicial process, resulting in complete travesty of justice. The extradition treaty prohibited the extradition of accused involved in the political offences and the government is now using the ED and all the investigating agencies for the political purpose. The supply of the charge sheet to the media houses is the best example of that,” it said.

Even though the court had not taken cognisance of the documents filed before it, in order to make the entire case a sensation again in the media, the ED had supplied the charge sheet to the media, it said. “The act of the prosecuting agency is highly condonable and contrary to the procedure established by law. It is pertaining to mention here that the prosecuting agency is acting as a weapon in the hands of the government and by clandestinely giving the documents to the media houses engineered in media trial with ulterior motives,” it claimed.

Such hostile remarks might curtail the rights of Mr. Michel to a free and fair trial as he was a citizen of another country, it said.

The ED told the court on April 4 that Mr. Michel and other accused received €42 million as kickbacks in the defence deal. In its 3,000-page supplementary charge sheet, it also named David Syms, Mr. Michel’s alleged business partner, and two firms owned by them — Global Trade and Commerce Ltd and Global Services FZE — as accused.

Mr. Michel, extradited from Dubai in December 2018, was one of the three middlemen being probed in the case, besides Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa, by the ED and the CBI.

On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Italy-based Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the Air Force over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of ₹423 crore by it for securing the deal.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 1:55:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/vvip-chopper-deal-didnt-name-anyone-in-connection-with-the-case-says-christian-michel/article26747606.ece

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