ED brings in “Mrs. Gandhi” in AgustaWestland case

sonia gandhi

New Delhi: Giving a dramatic twist in the Rs 3,600-crore AgustaWestland chopper deal case, the Enforcement Directorate on Saturday brought in the name of ‘Mrs Gandhi’ and ‘big man R’, an apparent reference to Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi, in a special court when it got a seven-day extension of custody of British national Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the deal.

Citing from a note of Michel, the agency, however, did not specify who the “Mrs Gandhi” or ‘big man R’ it was referring to.

During arguments, the ED counsel L.D. Singh also referred to Michel saying “big man ‘R’, son of an Italian lady who is going to be the next Prime Minister in a communication between Michel and AgustaWestland,” an apparent reference to Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

“We need to decipher the documents to decrypt such codes,” the counsel said.

In its remand application, the agency claimed that during interrogation on Thursday, Michel gave his lawyer a “folded paper” which the lawyer hid under his mobile phone. This incident took place when a medical team had come to check Michel’s health when his lawyer was also present.

“During the medical examination, Christian Michel stood up and turned towards his advocate Aljo Joseph standing next to him and acted like shaking hands with the advocate and saying him good-bye and extended his hands for handshake.

“It was noticed that Michel secretly handed over a folded paper to his counsel Joseph. Joseph was carrying his mobile phone under which he hide the folded paper and put it discreetly in pocket of his jacket and acted as if nothing took place,” reads the ED remand paper.

The remand paper said “immediately after the incident was noticed by the Deputy Director present in the room that Michel has handed over a paper to his counsel”.

“On this, counsel Joseph was asked to give the paper back. He took out a folded paper from his jacket and returned the same to Ms Ramanjit Kaur. On perusal of the same, it was found that it was having the typed form of questions to be asked on it.

“The paper was then handed over to Naresh Malik, Assistant Director ED. Perusal of the folded paper revealed that it pertained to a set of questions with regard to follow up questions on ‘Mrs Gandhi’. It is clear that there is a conspiracy to shield and or to tamper the evidence that could be brought forth from the questioning of the accused.

“The benefit given by the court to the accused of legal access is being misused and needs to be discontinued henceforth,” it said.

However, the court allowed continued legal assistance to Michel, though the timing was reduced to 15 minutes from 30 minutes both in the morning and the evening.(IANS)