Christian Michel, a suspected middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, has claimed he was asked to implicate UPA leaders Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel. He claimed he was asked to specify in writing that ‘Family’ and ‘AP’ stood for the Gandhi family and the Rajya Sabha MP.
Michel told a leading daily from India that he would have been allowed to walk free had he done so and claimed he could obtain CCTV footage to prove that he met CBI officials. He said, “The CBI is lying; I have at least six witness to prove that we had three meetings,” he said. The CBI had earlier claimed it hadn’t questioned Christian Michel in UAE.
Earlier CBI had denied claims that he waspressured by the Indian and UAE authorities to give a confession and name Congress leader Sonia Gandhi in his statement. “Christian Michel was arrested in February 2017 by the UAE authorities. He was not arrested this year as claimed by his defence lawyer. CBI team has neither examined the fugitive in the UAE nor influenced him to extract confession. The extradition proceedings against the fugitive is going on in the UAE and request for extradition is being followed up,” CBI Spokesperson Abhishek Dayal shared with media in India. The CBI filed charge sheet in the matter in September last year, naming former IAF Chief S P Tyagi as one of the accused. Besides him, the agency has also chargesheeted retired Air Marshal JS Gujral along with eight others, including five foreign nationals. Michel is one of the three foreign country-based middleman chargesheeted in the matter. The agency has alleged that there was an estimated loss of Euro 398.21 million (approximately Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer in the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010 for the supply of VVIP choppers worth Euro 556.262 million.
The CBI had earlier alleged that during his tenure as air force chief, Tyagi and, with his approval, the Air Force conceded to reduce the mandatory service ceiling for VVIP helicopters from 6,000 metres to 4,500 metres.