Christian Michel’s kin urge UK intervention

Addressing a virtual press conference, Michel’s sons Alaric and Alois Michel said that they have been more and more concerned for their father’s well-being…reports Asian Lite News

The family of alleged AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal middleman Christian Michel on Thursday expressed concern for his well-being amid the continuing Covid-19 pandemic in India and urged the British authorities to intervene on behalf of the accused being held in Delhi’s Tihar Jail.

Addressing a virtual press conference, Michel’s sons Alaric and Alois Michel said that they have been more and more concerned for their father’s well-being amid the continuing Covid-19 pandemic within the nation’s prisons and his medical situation involving kidney stones.

Alaric said that his father was rotting in jail amid fears about rising Covid-19 cases in India. “We want his trial to take place despite fears that such a trial won’t be free and fair… We are imploring the UK government to do what is right, which is protecting one of its citizens who is being treated badly,” he said.

His younger brother Alois said that his family has been waiting for more than three years for developments in Michel’s case amid fears about a trial ever happening.

Alaric said: “It has been extraordinarily onerous on us, particularly our 17-year-old sister. We’re involved for our father’s well-being given the Covid-19 pandemic and his medical situation.”

Michel was extradited to India on December 5, 2018 from the United Arab Emirates. On his arrival in India, he was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and days later, arrested by financial probe agency, the Enforcement Directorate.

An Italian Navy AW101 which is the same model purchased under this deal(wikipedia)

Since then, he has been lodged in judicial custody at Tihar Jail.

The press conference was organised by Guernica 37 Worldwide Justice Chambers in London.

Besides Michel’s sons, his lawyers Francois Zimeray and Toby Cadman, who are working with his Indian counsel Aljo Joseph, also said that they feared he would not get a free and fair trial in India.

Michel had recently sought bail in connection with the cases registered against him by the CBI and the ED on the grounds that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) concluded his detention was arbitrary.

His layers said that they planned to petition the UN to take further action following India’s failure to act on WGAD recommendation in March this year that Michel should be immediately freed.

The lawyers also said that they will also submit a report to the UK government and the European Union on Michel’s case.

Zimeray said he had rarely seen “such a lack of respect for basic human rights and indifference”.

He said that the UN panel’s recommendations did not amount to a political decision as WGAD’s findings were technical in nature and based on whether India’s position was in line with international treaties and conventions it has signed.

He noted that it is up to the UK government to raise its voice and raise the issue (with India) as Michel has been jailed for political reasons.

Indian courts have rejected the bail pertition of Michel on number of occasions.

On September 19 last year, the CBI filed a supplementary charge sheet against 15 accused, including Michel and accused-turned-approver Rajiv Saxena, in connection with the alleged corruption in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal.

The CBI had earlier filed a charge sheet in this case on September 1, 2017 against then IAF chief S.P. Tyagi and 11 other accused.

On January 1, 2014, India cancelled the contract with Finmeccanica’s British subsidiary AgustaWestland for supplying 12 AW-101 VVIP choppers to the IAF over alleged breach of contractual obligations and on charges of paying kickbacks amounting to Rs 423 crore.

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