The battle-lines have been drawn between the Congress and the BJP after Subramaniam Swamy linked Sonia Gandhi in the Agusta Westland chopper deal when he spoke for the first time after being nominated in the Rajya Sabha. Even before he could complete his statement, Congress leader rushed into the Well of the Upper House shouting slogans against Swamy and the government.
Swamy’s statement comes in the backdrop of an observation made by the Italian Court of Appeals in the case which has generated heavy political fire in the country.
Here are five highlights of the court order:
1. The court has observed that there are “unmistakable indications regarding corruption of an Indian officer”, identified as the cousin of Tyagi brothers — pointing at Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi, the then Chief of Air Staff who allegedly reduced the ceiling height of Agusta Westland choppers. The former IAF chief’s name figures prominently in the 225-page judgment by the Italian court.
2. The annexures and submissions attached to the judgment point at close to Euro 30 million worth of commission being budgeted for distribution among decision-makers in India. These included politicians, bureaucrats and Air Force officials, among others.
3. The document takes cognizance of various conversations between middlemen Carlos Gerosa, Christian Michel and Guildo Haschke — reported earlier by The Indian Express. In these conversations, the three discuss “Mrs Gandhi” as the driving force behind the “VIP” and her closest advisers Ahmed Patel and Pranab Mukherjee as being “the aim of the British high commissioner” in the VVIP chopper race.
4. A note titled “budget expenditure items” indicates the amounts the middlemen earmarked for distribution among Indian decision-makers. The handwritten note mentions the amounts against officials at various appointments in “AF”, mentioned elsewhere in the document as Air Force, “Bur” for bureaucrats, and “Pol” for politicians, which lists the initials AP (mentioned elsewhere in the judgment as “It corresponds to Ahmed Patel”) and “family” (referring to the Tyagi family).
5. The judgment refers to a letter dated March 15, 2008 from middleman Christian Michel, a fugitive, to Peter Hulet, then India region sales and liaison head of Agusta Westland, created specifically for the chopper deal. It reads: “Dear Peter, since Mrs. Gandhi is the driving force behind the VIP, she will no longer fly with MI8 … Mrs. Gandhi and her closest advisers are the aim of the High Commissioner, senior advisor Prime Minister Manmohan Singh obviously the main figure, then there’s Ahmed Patel Secretary “.