As alleged AgustaWestland middleman Christian Michel continues to wine and dine in Dubai, Indian government certainly comes across as lackadaisical in its approach to extradite the key player in the AgustaWestland scam.
The Dubai Court’s decision to grant bail is a shot in the arm for the middleman who has been residing in Dubai for the last few years. Soon after securing the bail, a relieved Michel headed for a lavish dinner with his Italian lawyer Rosemary Patrizia. Speaking over the phone, Michel told Republic TV, “I am absolutely fine.” On being asked whether any Indian politicians were bribed for the deal, Michel said, “This is a subject of further discussion.”
Republic TV, in fact, was the only Indian TV channel in Dubai to report about the court proceedings. After being detained by the Dubai authorities on the request of the Indian government, Christian Michel was kept at the detention facility, Interpol Section, in the Dubai police headquarters for over a month.
India was given 45 days after his detention to present evidence against the middleman. Soon after his detention, Christian Michel’s legal team went overboard with several media interviews suggesting that India had no evidence – an act that was described by the Indian agencies as a “campaign to spread misinformation.” In the run up to the hearing, sources within investigating agencies insisted that all evidences were handed over and the UAE authorities had expressed satisfaction.
On July 29th when the bail plea came up for hearing in a Dubai court, we were up for a rude shock -- not a single Indian government official was present in the court. The bail hearing, which was scheduled for 10.30 am (Dubai time) at chamber 20, got delayed.
The three-judge bench told the lawyers that they would take up the matter in a private chamber and not in an open court. Christian Michel was represented by an Emirati lawyer Amal Al Subaei of A&B Law firm.
Michel’s close aide and Italian lawyer Rosemary Patrizia was also present in the court. In fact, Patrizia left no stone unturned to ensure that her client Michel is granted bail.
Christian Michel wasn’t produced before the court. Al Subaei argued in the court that there was no evidence against Michel. “He is a British citizen. He is growing old. We impressed upon the court that he wouldn’t flee from Dubai,” said Al Subaei.
While there is no confirmation from the Indian investigative agencies, Emirati lawyer of Christian Michel claims that the bail wasn’t opposed. “There was no one from the Indian side to oppose the bail. We have applied for the file (read evidence) that has been given to the public prosecutor. Unless we see the file, we cannot comment whether Indian government has submitted any evidence,” said Al Subaei.
CBI sources maintain that no Indian representatives need to be in the court and that the public prosecutor would be representing the Indian government. This has been contested by a senior Dubai-based lawyer Anjana Bhatia.
“India should have hired a UAE lawyer to present their version. That would have definitely strengthened India’s case. In Dubai, you need to have a UAE national to represent your case,” said Bhatia, who was present in the court during Michel’s bail plea hearing.
Michel will have to appear before the court on August 26th when the extradition hearing will take place. It remains to be seen whether the Indian government will pull up their socks and present some hard evidence against Christian Michel.