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Centre Forcing AgustaWestland Middleman to Implicate Sonia Gandhi: Congress

Congress claimed that this is the first time in the history of India that a “Prime Minister been found complicit in gaining 'false evidence' against opposition leaders to seek revenge."

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Updated:July 19, 2018, 7:46 PM IST
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Centre Forcing AgustaWestland Middleman to Implicate Sonia Gandhi: Congress
File photo of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
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New Delhi: The Congress party on Thursday alleged that the middleman in the controversial AgustaWestland chopper deal is being forced to frame Sonia Gandhi in exchange for exoneration from all charges.

Speaking to reporters, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged that the Narendra Modi government is using investigative agencies to pressure Christian Michael into signing a false confession naming the UPA chairperson.

To back its charge, the Congress cited a statement given by Michel’s lawyer that investigators have been trying to coax the false statement that he personally knew Gandhi when the scandal-hit deal for AgustaWestland luxury helicopters was clinched.

Michel, a British national, was detained in Dubai around a month ago. He is accused of handling and routing over 60 million euros for AgustaWestland kickbacks. Investigators say that he made about 300 trips to India, the last in 2013.

His lawyer, in a telephonic interview to India Today, has claimed that investigators forced Michel to sign the false statement, but when he refused, he was arrested.

Surjewala claimed that this is the first time in the history of India that a “Prime Minister been found complicit in gaining 'false evidence' against opposition leaders to seek revenge."

The alleged scam relates to the purchase of 12 VVIP choppers for Rs 3,600 crore for use by top leaders, including the Prime Minister and President. The deal with Finmeccanica's British subsidiary AgustaWestland was cancelled in January 2014 over allegations that the firm paid kickbacks of Rs 423 crore to secure the deal.

India has been trying to secure Michel’s extradition for the past one year for his role in the alleged scam. His lawyer said that Michel was not involved in any bribery. “I have not done any bribery, I never saw, I never met Mrs Gandhi. That's what he is telling. It is possible that authorities are forcing him to say something which is not true, because they cannot find any evidence, because there is no evidence," the lawyer told India Today.

When asked if the middleman was guaranteed freedom if he signed off on the alleged confession documents, his lawyer said yes. "Yes, yes, they want him to say that," he said.
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