New Delhi: A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Wednesday sent Christian Michel James, the alleged middleman accused in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, to judicial custody until 28 December. Michel’s 15-day police custody ended on Wednesday.
“Little progress" has been made during interrogations so far, with the CBI still trying to solve the mystery around diary entries that could potentially implicate senior leaders of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) regime, according to persons familiar with the developments. However, the CBI remained tight-lipped about the extent of Michel’s cooperation during the investigation.
It could, however, spell trouble for senior politicians whose names had come up during investigation for allegedly liaising with Michel at the time when the AgustaWestland deal was being crystallized as the agency continues to confront Michel with documents pertaining to the scam.
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has alleged that acronyms in seized documents refer to prominent Congress leaders.
The CBI had on 11 December sought a specimen of Michel’s handwriting to examine the letters with references to “AP" and “fam". The agency argued that “dispatches" sent by Michel pertained to “high links with people in politics and in the ministry of defence".
However, Michel’s counsel informed the court on Wednesday during Michel’s bail hearing that the British national was being “forced" to provide handwriting samples despite being “dyslexic".
The CBI court will rule on Michel’s bail plea on Saturday.
In 2012, Swiss authorities had discovered a diary from the apartment of another alleged middleman Guido Haschke, who later told authorities that it was Michel who had dictated the contents of that note as he himself was incapable of cursive writing.
The AgustaWestland case refers to a deal for 12 luxury choppers for use by the President, Prime Minister and other VIPs when the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government was in power. India is investigating charges that Michel organized bribes to push a ₹ 3,600 crore contract for the helicopters.