Does Congress want to save Christian Michel, asks Amit Shah

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Christian Michel is the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland case.

Christian Michel, the British national accused in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, has boarded the flight to India along with the Indian authorities who were in Dubai to complete the extradition process.

Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar allowed Michel's advocate to meet for one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening while in custody.

Mr. Michel was brought to New Delhi on board an Aviation Research Centre plane of the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) at around 10.45 p.m. and escorted to the Central Bureau of Investigation headquarters by a team of Delhi Police officials.

Joint director of CBI, A Sai Manohar, had gone to Dubai to facilitate Michel's extradition. However, when he failed to do so, an open non-bailable arrest warrant was issued against him in September 2015.

The Dubai Court of Cassation had earlier dismissed the two objections filed by Michel's lawyers and upheld the appellate court's decision to consider the possibility of extraditing him to the competent Indian authorities.

Michel who went missing after Dubai court's extradition approval was arrested in the UAE past year on the basis of an Interpol notice and was out on bail.

On January 1, 2014, India scrapped the contract with Italy-based Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and charges of paying kickbacks to the tune of Rs 423 crore by it for securing the deal.

A charge sheet was filed against him in September previous year.

In its chargesheet, the ED had said the three middlemen "managed to" influence the Indian Air Force (IAF) officials to reduce the service ceiling of these 12 helicopters from 6,000 metre to 4,500 metre in 2005, which made AgustaWestland eligible for the deal. On page 204 of the judgment, a 2008 letter seized from the home of middleman Haschke has been cited to argue in the court that key players were targeting top UPA leadership to swing the Rs 3,600 crore VVIP chopper deal.

Michel is one of three middlemen being probed in the case by Indian investigative agencies in connection with the scam. "During the above meeting they had negotiated a comprehensive fees equal to 7% of the supply contract amount to cover the expenses and fees of both of them".

He was allegedly a frequent visitor to India and was operating as a middleman for defence procurement through a wide network of sources cultivated in the IAF and the Defence Ministry at different levels, including through retired and serving IAF officials, the agency said.

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