ED names ‘Mrs Gandhi’, ‘big man R’ in VVIP chopper case in court

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 30 Dec 2018 08:49:24



ED alleges that Christian Michel was being tutored from outside through the lawyers

Court extends his ED custody by seven days

A DELHI court hearing the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case on Saturday imposed restrictions on alleged middleman Christian Michel meeting his lawyers in ED custody after the agency said that he was misusing legal access by passing chits to the advocates asking them how to tackle questions on “Mrs Gandhi’.

While seeking extension of Michel’s remand, the Enforcement Directorate claimed that he made a reference to ‘Mrs Gandhi’ and during questioning and spoke about the “big man ‘R’”, “son of an Italian lady” and how he is going to become the next Prime Minister of the country. The agency, however, did not state in what context Michel had made these references during interrogation.

The ED sought that Michel be barred from meeting his counsel in its custody, alleging that he was being tutored from outside through the lawyers, following which the court directed that the three defence counsel will be able to meet Michel one at a time at a distance from the accused and legal assistance will be only for 15 minutes at 10 am and at 5 pm during a day.

The order came after Michel was on Saturday produced before vacation judge, Chandrashekhar, who extended his ED custody by seven days. The agency told the court that Michel had made a reference to ‘Mrs Gandhi’ during interrogation on December 27. During medical examination, the accused had handed over a folded paper to his advocate Aljo K Joseph and it was noticed by ED officials. After perusal of the paper, it was revealed that it pertained to a set of follow-up questions on ‘Mrs Gandhi’, the ED said.

The development intensified the war of words between the BJP and the Congress on the issue with the ruling party attacking Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, claiming that the ED’s statement pointed towards involvement of their family in the alleged scam. Rejecting the charge, the Congress hit out at the BJP-led Government at the Centre, accusing it of using agencies to put pressure on Michel to “name a particular family” as elections were near and “it has no real issues”. The ED told the court that it is clear that there is a conspiracy to shield or to tamper with evidence that could be brought forth from questioning of the accused. “The benefit given by the court to the accused of legal access is being misused. It should be stopped henceforth,” the agency said. The agency said it has discovered fresh evidence relating to new entities, used for laundering the proceeds of crime and Michel’s custodial interrogation was needed for confrontation with his Indian connections identified till date.

It said he was also required to be taken around Delhi to identify the places where he held meetings and used them as hide outs to give bribes or to entertain officials and public figures.