Former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta
Former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta

I respect both Italian, Indian justices: Ex-Italy PM on AgustaWestland case

By Ashoke Raj (ANI) | Updated: Dec 12, 2018 02:30 IST

New Delhi [India], Dec 12 (ANI): Commenting on the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper case, former Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta said that the judgment made by an Italian court to acquit two former Leonardo (earlier Finmeccanica) executives in the case should be respected worldwide.
In January this year, a Milan appeals court gave a clean chit to Giuseppe Orsi, former president of Leonardo, and the former head of the subsidiary AgustaWestland, Bruno Spagnolini for want of evidence. Orsi and Spagnolini were accused of bribing Indian officials and make false billings, in order to obtain the 556-million euro contract (Rs 3,600 crore) for around 12 helicopters in India.
Responding to the same, Letta told ANI, "In my political life, I always respected the independence of justice. I did it when I was the Prime Minister. After three rounds, the Italian justice had exonerated. This judgment of complete exoneration was their decision and now we hope that this decision can be respected worldwide and we hope that this decision can help in cooperation between India and Italy."
"As we respected all procedures, it was a long procedure. We have to take into account that the decision was a total exoneration. So, I hope that the future will be better and as I respect the decisions of Italian justice, I also respect the decisions of Indian justice. Our democracies are based on the independence of judges. Those who have political responsibilities, they have to respect this independence," he added.
The Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal, finalised during former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's tenure, was mired in allegations of kickbacks. The 54-year-old Christian Michel, an alleged middleman is an accused in the case along with former India's Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi among others.
Michel was extradited to India on December 4 after the Dubai Cassation Court approved his extradition on November 19.
On Monday, a CBI special court had extended Michel's custody by five days before approving the British High Commission's request for consular access to Michel. He was earlier sent to five-day CBI custody on December 5.
According to the Enforcement Directorate (ED), a charge sheet filed in a Delhi court two years back, Michel had received kickbacks to the tune of 30 million euros from AgustaWestland for the deal involving a purchase of 12 VVIP helicopters. The deal, signed in 2007, was scrapped in 2013 following bribery allegations. (ANI)