A Delhi court on Monday allowed alleged middleman Christian Michel, arrested in the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, to make phone calls to his family members and lawyers abroad. Special Judge Arvind Kumar granted 15 minutes a week to Michel to make international calls. The accused had moved the court claiming that the jail authorities had rejected his plea seeking the permission. Michel, who was extradited from Dubai, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on December 22 last year.
The court had earlier imposed restrictions on Michel meeting his lawyers while he was in the ED's custody after the agency had said he was misusing the legal access by passing chits to his lawyers, asking them how to tackle questions on "Mrs Gandhi". The ED's counsels, D P Singh and N K Matta, had also claimed that during questioning, Michel had spoken about the "son of an Italian lady" and how he was going to become the next prime minister of the country.
"We also need to decipher who is the 'big man' referred to as 'R' in the communications between Michel and other people," the ED had told the court. On January 5, Michel was sent to judicial custody in the ED case. He is also lodged in judicial custody in the CBI case related to the scam. Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case by the ED and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
The others are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa. The ED, in its charge sheet filed against Michel in June 2016, had alleged that he had received 30 million euros (about Rs 225 crore) from AgustaWestland. The CBI, in its charge sheet, has alleged an estimated loss of 398.21 million euros (about Rs 2,666 crore) to the exchequer due to the deal that was signed on February 8, 2010, for the supply of VVIP choppers worth 556.262 million euros.
(With inputs from agencies.)