A Delhi court on Friday allowed the CBI to interrogate Christian Michel, an alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, in Tihar Central Jail where he is lodged. Special Judge Arvind Kumar permitted the CBI to quiz Michel from September 24 to 26 on its plea seeking directions for giving his specimen signatures and writings and for further interrogation.
The CBI had submitted that during the investigation, documents reportedly written by Christian Michel James were received from foreign countries pursuant to the Letters Rogatory issued by the court. It said that specimen writings of the accused were obtained on December 11, 2018 and were forwarded to CFSL for opinion.
The handwriting expert from the CFSL has sought more specimen writings and signatures of Michel for examination/comparison and expressing opinion, it added. The agency also told the court that during investigation some facts and documents have surfaced regarding which his further interrogation was required.
The application was opposed by the accused, saying that CBI has already taken his signatures and handwritings on a number of pages and that there was no need for further directions in that regard. He added that earlier the CBI had put pressure on him for giving handwritings and signatures in a particular manner which was violative of his rights.
However, the CBI submitted that they would be taking normal signature and handwriting of the accused. "Considering the facts and circumstances, the CBI officials are permitted to visit Tihar Jail on September 24, 25 and 26 during 11 AM to 1 PM and 2 PM to 4.30 PM for taking specimen signatures and handwritings of the accused and for interrogation.
"However, the aforesaid interrogation shall be conducted by CBI in presence of Jail Superintendent or any person authorised by him.... The jail authorities shall make necessary arrangements in this regard," the judge said.
Michel, meanwhile, submitted that he was not permitted to make phone calls by the jail authorities which was allowed by the court. The court has sought reply from Tihar jail authorities by September 27 on Michel's allegations. The court had recently denied bail to Michel, who was extradited from Dubai and arrested by the ED on December 22 last year.
On January 5 this year, he was sent to judicial custody in the ED case. He is also lodged in judicial custody in another case registered by the CBI in connection with the VVIP chopper scam. Michel is among the three alleged middlemen being probed in the case by the Enforcement Directorate and the CBI. The other two are Guido Haschke and Carlo Gerosa.