Defence Minister A K Antony, in a suo motu statement in Parliament, Wednesday said the reference to ‘FAM’ (family) in a purported ‘budget sheet’ of the accused middlemen in the VVIP chopper deal scandal seems to refer to the ‘Tyagi brothers’.
Admitting the presence of the document — first reported by The Indian Express in December last year — the minister said it was produced in an Italian court during a hearing. He said on cross-questioning, middleman Guido Haschke said FAM referred to the Tyagi brothers.
As part of his statement in Rajya Sabha — on which the BJP has said it will seek clarifications on a later date — Antony also said that Haschke, in response to a question, had said that he did not know what ‘AP’ meant in the document.
As reported in this newspaper, the prosecutor in the Italian case asked Has-chke specifically whether ‘AP’ was a reference to UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s close aide, Ahmed Patel, to which he replied he was not aware of what it referred to. The term ‘AP’ was dictated to Haschke by British middleman Christian Michel, who has remained elusive.
Antony also told Parliament about the presence of another document given by Michel to a top Agusta official in India to “target certain Indian leaders”. As first reported by The Indian Express, this document refers to Sonia Gandhi as being the main driving force behind the chopper deal and advises Agusta to target her closest aides.
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While admitting that these documents were produced in court, Antony said the “authenticity of these documents is not proved” and that “the case is presently in progress in the Italian court”.
The BJP slammed Antony’s statement and voiced apprehensions that the government may be trying to influence the witness under trial in the Italian court.
“The statement is curious. It conceals more than it reveals…. While Haschke replied that ‘FAM’ refers to the family of Tyagi brothers, he says he does not know what ‘AP’ means. Someone, somewhere is making attempts to influence the witnesses. MoD has joined the case. How can Haschke explain about FAM but not AP. Is there some match fixing in Italy given the fact that MoD and CBI have joined the case there,” BJP deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Ravishankar Prasad said.
He also expressed suspicion about the Defence Minister’s statement for failing to deny the charges. “Why cannot the Government of India deny his statement. All Christian Michael statements could have been denied upfront. This is curious,” Prasad said.