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Chopper scam: Italian court refuses to share case documents with India

by   Feb 16, 2013 15:50 IST

#Agusta Westland   #CBI   #Italy   #NewsTracker   #VVIP helicopter scam  

New Delhi: An Italian court, hearing the VVIP chopper deal scam case, has rejected India's request for documents related to the investigations into the matter, arguing that the "information is covered by secrecy".

Indian embassy in Rome had made the request for details and documents of the probe on February 13 after the arrest of Finmeccanica chief Giuseppe Orsi in connection with allegations that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 360 crore were paid in the Rs 3,600 crore deal, sources said in New Delhi on Saturday.

The Indian embassy in Rome received communication today from the Judge of Preliminary Invetigations of the Tribunal Busto Arsizio Luca Labianca stating that it was "not possible to give a positive reply" to the Indian request, the sources said.

In the letter received by the Indian embassy, the judge said, "the investigations were, in fact, at a preliminary stage, during which, as per Article 329 of code of Penal Procedure, all information are covered by secrecy. Only parties and their lawyers were allowed to have access to the information and documents."

The Italian judge told the Indian embassy that his office will consider a "fresh request" from the Indian side once the secrecy obligations into the matter get over.

On Friday, India initiated the process to scrap the deal to acquire 12 VVIP helicopters with Italian firm AgustaWestland, and sent a show cause notice to the firm over allegations that kickbacks were paid to Indian officials, including former Air Force chief SP Tyagi.

Meanwhile, a joint team of CBI and Defence Ministry is likely to leave for Italy on Sunday to probe the alleged kickbacks in the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP helicopter deal.

Helicopter-Reuters

Reuters

CBI sources said the team will meet Italian prosecutors to ascertain the details of the case.

The sources said two members of CBI comprising DIG-level officer and a law officer besides officers from the Defence Ministry will be part of the team.

The decision by the CBI came as it virtually drew a blank from the Defence Ministry in getting some official inputs regarding the alleged kickbacks in the case, official sources said on Saturday.

The CBI was handed over a letter by the Defence Ministry seeking a probe by it in the case. Attached with the letter were some Indian and Italian press clippings, which the CBI said, could not form the basis for registering a case.

CBI had sought help of the Indian Mission in Rome which too has not been able to provide any authenticated court documents to the agency, sources said.

This was followed by CBI seeking help of Interpol which also expressed inability to provide any help in the absence of any regular case not having been registered by the agency, the sources said.

The Defence Ministry had on Friday sent a team led by Joint Secretary and an Air Commodore of Indian Air Force, who gave a presentation to the CBI about the tendering procedures and various stages while finalising the helicopter deal with AugustaWestland.

However, when pressed by CBI officials about the kickback allegations, the team could not provide any answers to the sleuths, the sources said.

PTI