No attempts to tamper with evidence, influence witnesses: Christian Michel in bail plea in AgustaWestland case

ANI New Delhi, India Oct 23, 2019, 09.50 PM(IST)

Christian Michel. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

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Michel moved the plea through his counsel Aljo K Joseph in the High Court after a special court dismissed his bail plea by observing that the accusations against him are 'serious in nature'

Christian Michel, an alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland case, on Wednesday approached the Delhi High Court, seeking bail in the cases filed against him by CBI and ED in connection with Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal.

Michel moved the plea through his counsel Aljo K Joseph in the High Court after a special court dismissed his bail plea by observing that the accusations against him are "serious in nature".

Michel in his bail plea contended that there is no allegation against him of tampering with the evidence or influencing witnesses. 

The court is slated to hear his plea on Thursday. 

Earlier, in the special court, both CBI and ED had opposed his bail plea. They submitted that he was a flight risk and could possibly flee the country.

"The material collected during the investigation is mostly documentary in nature, hence, the question of tampering with evidence does not arise. The petition has made no attempt to suborn witnesses, tamper with evidence or pollute the judicial process," the petition stated.

He further asserted that the investigating agencies failed to complete the probe within the "prescribed time". 

"After long custodial interrogation by both the CBI and ED, no final report has been filed," it stated.

The supplementary charge sheet filed has no specific allegations with regard to the commission of offences either under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or Prevention of Corruption (PC) Act for which the petitioner was charged, the plea submitted.

He said that the Italian court had, after considering all the material and documents, acquitted him and the entire prosecution initiated against him here amounts to "double jeopardy".

Double jeopardy prevents an accused person from being tried again on the same charges following a valid acquittal or conviction. Michel asserted that he is in judicial custody since January and his "pre-trail incarceration" is in violation of his personal liberty under the constitution.

"The petitioner is entitled to the presumption of innocence like any other accused and securing his liberty is a manifestation of such presumption," the plea stated.

In 2014, India scrapped a contract with Italian company Finmeccanica`s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 choppers to the Indian Air Force for allegedly breaching contractual obligations and paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore to secure the deal. 

Michel has been accused of bribing influential people in India to secure the deal.

Michel was extradited from Dubai last year and is currently lodged in Tihar Jail in connection with alleged irregularities in the chopper deal.

While the CBI is probing his alleged role as a `middleman` in the deal, the ED is investigating money-laundering charges against him.