VVIP chopper deal: Italian court refuses to share probe details with India

AgustaWestland

India's efforts to access information on the helicopter scam received a setback today with an Italian court rejecting a request for documents related to the deal even as CBI and Defence Ministry teams prepared to travel to Rome to gather evidence.

AgustaWestland, which has been issued a show cause notice by the Defence Ministry for cancellation of the Rs 3,600 crore deal, today promised to address all the points raised by the Indian government.

Meanwhile, Guissepe Orsi, CEO of Finmeccanica, the holding company of AgustaWestland, has denied knowing the family of former IAF chief Shashi Tyagi, who has been accused of taking bribes.

Orsi's lawyer Ennio Amodio went a step further telling Indian TV channels that "there was nothing substantiated regarding the actual conduct of Mr Shashi Tyagi".

There was bad news for the government as the court in Milan hearing the case refused to share any details saying it was "not possible to give a positive reply" to the Indian request.

The Indian embassy in Rome had made the request for details and documents of the probe on February 13 after the arrest of Orsi in connection with allegations that kickbacks to the tune of Rs 360 crore were paid in the Rs 3,600 crore deal, sources said on Saturday.

The communication was received by the Indian embassy in Rome from the Judge of Preliminary Investigations of the Tribunal Busto Arsizio Luca Labianca.

In the letter, the judge said, "The investigations were, in fact, at a preliminary stage, during which, as per Article 329 of code of Penal Procedure, all information are covered by secrecy. Only parties and their lawyers were allowed to have access to the information and documents."

The Italian judge told the Indian embassy that his office will consider a "fresh request" from the Indian side once the secrecy obligations into the matter get over.

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