The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Friday flatly denied having questioned AgustaWestland deal middleman Christian Michel James any time this year. It has also denied that it had put any pressure on the absconding VVIP chopper scam accused to sign on a confession. In a sensational claim to media, Michel’s lawyer Rosemary Patrizi and his sister Sasha Ozeman said that Michel had been detained by authorities in Dubai and that CBI officials had interrogated him. They claimed that the officials had put pressure on him to sign on a confession that said he had met UPA chairperson and former Congress president Sonia Gandhi when the deal was being negotiated.
In response to a questionnaire sent by The Indian Express in this regard, CBI has said, “Christian Michel James was arrested in February 2017 by UAE. He was not arrested this year as claimed by the defence lawyer. CBI team has not examined the fugitive Christian Michel James nor has it influenced him to extract a confession. The extradition proceedings against the fugitive is going on in UAE and the request for the extradition is being followed up.”
It may be noted that Christian Michel James has in the past denied having met any member of the Gandhi family in connection the Rs 3600 VVIP chopper crore deal. His lawyer too has claimed that Michel refused to sign the alleged confession because he had. never met Sonia Gandhi.
The Gandhi family name has been dragged into the case following the recovery of a hand-written note from the possession of another middleman, Guido Haschke, where certain payment was mentioned against the word “family”. Michel has called this note to be fake.
The claims made by the lawyer and sister of Michel led to a press conference by the Congress on Thursday where it said that the government was using central agencies to tarnish the image of opposition leaders.
CBI and ED have both filed charge sheets in the case with former IAF chief SP Tyagi being the main accused. ED has even attached assets belonging to Michel in Delhi. The charge sheets have alleged that Tyagi after receiving kickbacks from middlemen such as Michel had influenced decision making and lowered the service ceiling requirement in the tender to help AgustaWestland qualify.
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