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UN body seeks Michel release, India rejects opinion

The WGAD, a body under the United Nations, has also taken cognizance of submission by Michel’s lawyers that his handover to India in 2018 by UAE authorities was a “swap deal” for Princess Latifa, they said.

Written by Deeptiman Tiwary | New Delhi |
Updated: February 27, 2021 8:07:47 am
United Nations, WGAD, Michel release, Christian James Michel, Arbitrary Detention, UN body, INdian express newsChristian James Michel

THE WORKING Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), a body under the United Nations, has asked for the immediate release of VVIP chopper deal accused Christian James Michel on the ground that his over two years detention in India is “arbitrary”, Michel’s lawyers claimed on Friday. It has also taken cognizance of submission by Michel’s lawyers that his handover to India in 2018 by UAE authorities was a “swap deal” for Princess Latifa, they said.

“On 26 February 2020, the UN WGAD published Opinion No.88/2020 which ruled that Christian Michel, a British national, is being arbitrarily detained by the Republic of India, in contravention of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” a statement released by Michael’s lawyers Zimeray & Finelle Avocats in Paris, and Aljo K Joseph in Delhi said.

India rejected the opinion expressed by the Working Group, saying it was based on “limited information” and “biased allegations”.

“We regret that the conclusions drawn by the Working Group are based on limited information, biased allegations from an unidentified source and on an inaccurate understanding of India’s criminal justice system. … The allegations which form the basis of the opinion …are contrary to facts. The Government of India therefore, rejects the opinion,” MEA spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

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The MEA said the government had provided timely information to the Working Group on the matter in June last year.

“The extradition was done entirely in accordance with the provisions of the Extradition Treaty signed between two sovereign States. The arrest and subsequent custody were done as per the due process of law and cannot be considered arbitrary on any grounds,” Srivastava said.

“At no time was the accused denied his rights to legal counsel or a fair hearing. The fact that he has been able to approach Courts on multiple occasions including the higher judiciary is itself proof of this. There have also been no restrictions on consular access by the authorities. He has been treated at par as other detainees and provided all facilities by the prison authorities as per rules,” he added.

Both CBI and ED are probing cases against Michel. He is alleged to have played a key role as middleman in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland deal for purchase of choppers.

Michel had been brought to India from the UAE in December 2018 on a special flight. He is currently lodged in Tihar Jail.

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