De­fMin awaits chop­per trial re­port from Italy

The Political and Business Daily - - NATION -

GOVERN­MENT is await­ing a re­port from its em­bassy and team in Italy to get a fi­nal pic­ture on whether De­fence Min­is­ter A K Antony has been listed as a wit­ness in the VVIP chop­per scam trial by a court there.

The Min­istry will get a fi­nal pic­ture on the de­vel­op­ments in the court in Italy af­ter get­ting a re­port from the em­bassy in Rome and the Joint Sec­re­tary-led team which had gone there to at­tend the hear­ing, De­fence Min­istry of­fi­cials said here.

The Min­istry is, how­ever, al­ready clear that Antony will not de­pose or ap­pear as wit­ness be­fore any court out­side In­dia, they said. In the very be­gin­ning of the trial on June 19, In­dia had told the Ital­ian court that its or­ders would not be bind­ing on it and it will have the right to ex­er­cise all le­gal op­tions avail­able to it.

Joint Secy, Ac­qui­si­tion Man­ager (Air) Arun Kumar Bal was in Italy to rep­re­sent De­fence Min­istry in the hear­ing yes­ter­day.

Re­ports yes­ter­day sug­gested that a judge in the city Busto Ar­sizio had cleared the names of Antony, for­mer Bri­tish De­fence Min­is­ter Ge­off Hoon and Ratan Tata among 80 pos­si­ble wit­nesses in the trial of for­mer CEO of Italy's Fin­mec­ca­n­nica, which had se­cured a deal with the In­dian govern­ment for sup­ply­ing 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs. Three of the helicopters had been de­liv­ered be­fore cor­rup­tion was re­ported in the deal.

For­mer IAF chief Air Chief Mar­shal S P Tyagi and his three cousins have been ques­tioned by the CBI in con­nec­tion with al­le­ga­tions of kick­backs to the tune of Rs 362 crore in the deal. Tyagi has de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

For­mer Fin­mec­ca­n­nica chair­man Guiseppe Orsi has been ac­cused by pros­e­cu­tors of pay­ing bribes to se­cure he­li­copter deal three years ago when he was head of Agus­taWest­land. An­other top of­fi­cial of Agus­taWest­land, its exCEO Bruno Spag­no­lini is also fac­ing trial in the case. Both have de­nied wrong­do­ing.

The case will re­sume on Septem­ber 17.

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