Chopper scam notes on targeting leaders vague: Antony

Says representatives from India are attending ongoing case in Italy

Chopper scam notes on targeting leaders vague: Antony

In an attempt to defend the UPA government in the AgustaWestland chopper scam, Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday said certain notes have come to light suggesting that middlemen in the chopper deal had tried to target certain Indian leaders but their authenticity is “not proved”.

Antony made a suo motu statement in the Rajya Sabha after the BJP threatened to raise the issue after a note received from Italy suggested that one of the middlemen, Christian Michel, had written to an AgustaWestland official in India to ask a high commissioner to target UPA chair-

man Sonia Gandhi and her close advisers Ahmed Patel, Pranab Mukherjee and Veerappa Moily.

“There is another unsigned document purported to be written by Christian to the attention of one Peter Hullet for the high commissioner to target certain Indian leaders. The authenticity of these documents is not proved. The case is presently in an Italian court,” Antony said.

On the hearings in an Italian court, he said one unsigned handwritten paper has been produced which has headings “AF, BUR, POL (under which AP is recorded), FAM etc and Guido Hashcke, from whom this document has been recovered, has been cross-examined on this”.

The defence minister said the transcript of this cross-examination of Haschke was received by his ministry.

“Haschke, in response to a specific question by the Italian public prosecutor as to the meaning of FAM, replied that FAM is family. In a reply to another question, he stated “due to the family, that is to the Tyagi brothers”.

Antony said that when Haschke was asked about AP, he responded with “I don't know what it means”.

After the arrest of senior officials at Finmeccanica in Italy, the CBI registered a preliminary inquiry on February 2013, which has now been converted into a regular case against former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi and 18 other persons and companies, the defence minister said. 

“The CBI has issued Letters Rogatory for witnesses and evidence,” he added. The minister said representatives of the Defence Ministry, CBI and the Ministry of External Affairs have been attending hearings in Italy’s Court of Busto Arsizio in Milan, where the case is ongoing.

He said the contract for the supply of 12 VVIP choppers was cancelled on January 1 on grounds of breach of provisions of the pre-integrity pact.

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