Court extends Christian Michel's CBI custody

New Delhi, Dec 11: A Delhi court on Monday extended by another five days the CBI custody of British national Christian Michel, the middleman accused in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

Special Judge Arvind Kumar allowed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to quiz the middleman till December 15. The CBI had sought nine days' custody of Michel.Special Public Prosecutor D.P. Singh told the court that documents have been received from five countries pursuant to the Letters Rogatory sent to these countries and there is incriminating material which the CBI needed to confront him with.

The prosecutor added that the agency needs to confront him with some witnesses to identify his accomplices including IAF officers, bureaucrats and politicians.Michel was presented in the court after a five-day CBI custody. He was extradited to India on December 4 from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Michel's defence counsel Aljo K. Joseph and Vishnu Sankar opposed the CBI plea and said there is no incriminating material against the accused and that the Italian court had found nothing wrong against him.The CBI said that Michel is not cooperating in the probe and giving evasive responses.Countering the CBI, the defence counsel said that Michel is co-operating in investigation. He also alleged that Michel is being tortured in custody and he has sent a mail to the British High Commission on Saturday regarding an officer of the agency.

The prosecutor denied the charges of torturing the accused and said he is being treated with utmost respect.The CBI told the court that Michel is being tutored by his advocates during their visit at the agency's office and the court's order granting permission to the lawyers to meet the accused twice a day for an hour is disturbing their effective interrogation.

But, the defence counsel denied the allegation.However, the court allowed defence lawyers to meet the accused for legal assistance twice a day for half an hour and said that in case the accused is taken outside the CBI complex, Joseph and other defence counsel for the accused shall be allowed to visit the accused for an hour in the morning.The counsel also told the court that his lawyer in Italy, Santrolli Rosemary Patrizi Dos Anjos, wants to meet him.

Michel's counsel Anjos from Milan in Italy told IANS that the Indian court has said Dos Anjos would be permitted to meet Michel once she is present in the court on the next date of hearing.Anjos said that she would be visiting India in the coming days.The CBI also filed an application seeking direction to Michel for giving his specimen signatures. This will be heard by the court on Tuesday.