AgustaWestland case: Christian Michel names 'Mrs Gandhi'; alleged middleman sent to 7-day ED custody

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Friday told Delhi's Patiala court that the prime accused in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, Christian Michel, has named "Mrs Gandhi" while being interrogated, but the context of his statement was not clear. Michel also spoke about "the son of the Italian lady" and how he is going to become the "next prime minister of the country," ANI reported.

File image of Christian Michel. PTI

File image of Christian Michel. PTI

In addition, according to ANI, Michel also identified how Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) was removed from the controversial deal, following which it was offered to Tata instead. The ED is now seeking to ban Michel's lawyer — Aljo K Joseph — access to his client, alleging he is being tutored from outside, the news agency said.

In response, the lawyer said: "We don’t dispute that he (Christian Michel) had handed us the papers, but it’s the fault of the ED that they allowed it to happen."

Joseph added that Michel had a query regarding an issue pertaining to legal responses. "He tried to give us something, we didn’t see what it was. It was immediately pointed out that he was slipping us a paper and the paper was taken away," he said.

In court, the ED said: "We need to decipher who the 'big man' referred to as 'R' is in the communication between Christian Michel and other people. We need to confront Michel with other people to decipher who 'the big man' or 'R' is."

Following this, Delhi's Patiala House court sent alleged the middleman to seven-day ED remand, ANI reported. Additionally, the court ordered Michel’s lawyers to maintain a distance while meeting him. It restricted Michel's time with his lawyers to 15 minutes every morning and evening.

Narendra Modi said Christian Michel will reveal 'all secrets'

The development comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 5 December had said the British national, who had earlier too taken Sonia Gandhi's name, will spill the beans on the deal during the former government's tenure.

Addressing an election meeting, the prime minister had used the "namdaar" jibe and said those leaders, whose four generations ruled the country, had to knock the doors of court and were out on bail and would not be spared.

"You must have read in today's newspapers about VVIP helicopter scam of thousands of crore. You would be aware of a letter of Madam Sonia Gandhi. When we came to power to find out the files, we kept searching for it and finally found a 'razdar' (one who knows all secrets)."

"He was a middleman of England, who was living in Dubai. He used to serve the friends of namdaar in Dubai. The government has brought him to India. This razdar will reveal the secrets. Don't know where and how far it will go," he had said.

Union ministers Prakash Javadekar and Ravi Shankar Prasad also hit out at Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Prasad accused him of showering Modi with abuses and asserted that "today is the time for the Gandhi family to explain" following the Enforcement Directorate's (ED) statement in court.

The Congress has rejected the charge, saying the central government has been using agencies to implicate the Gandhi family.

In a sharp attack, Javadekar told reporters that the statement of Michel, who is accused of being a middleman and is under arrest, points to one family which, he claimed, has now been caught.

"The ED's disclosure in the court has made it clear that truth can no longer be suppressed. The truth about the Congress and Sonia Gandhi and Rahul is coming out before the people. The people will give the Congress a befitting reply," he said.

The country was earlier aware of two words, "family" and "AP", about the VVIP chopper case but Michel has now taken a few more names by referring to "Mrs Gandhi, big man, son of Italian lady, party leader and R", Javadekar said.

Prasad claimed Michel was a very key player in the case who was brought to India with due deportation process.

"He has taken Sonia ji's name and also given indication about Rahul Gandhi in a chit passed to his lawyer. The raazdar (one carrying secrets), Michel, is disclosing the involvement of others. Today is the time for the Gandhi family to explain," he claimed.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 29, 2018 21:39:07 IST

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