In Letter from Tihar, Christian Michel Asks UK PM to Sanction Modi for UAE Princess’s Abduction

The UK national, who has spent three years in jail awaiting trial in the AgustaWestland case, says the Modi government helped the UAE abduct Princess Latifa in 2018 so that it could get him in exchange.

The Wire Staff, The Wire
November 25, 2021

New Delhi: The British national Christian James Michel, accused in the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal and now into his third year as an undertrial prisoner, has threatened to go on an indefinite hunger strike in Delhi’s Tihar jail from today, November 25, if charges of human rights violations are not brought against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a nine-page handwritten letter to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson dated October 5 but made public only now, Michel has accused Modi of being responsible for the abduction of Princess Latifa in 2018 following an attack on the yacht she was travelling in on the high seas by Indian special forces. Michel has claimed that he was handed over to India by the United Arab Emirates’ authorities in exchange for Latifa, the estranged and runaway daughter of the ruler of Dubai.

Languishing in jail for three years ‘without charge or trial’

Michel wrote that he has been in an Indian jail for three years “without charge or trial” and that he was “brought to India from Dubai under now accepted rendition that has also been confirmed as such by the UN Human Rights Council”.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), a body under the UN, had in February this year held Michel’s detention in India to be “arbitrary” and called for his immediate release. The WGAD had also taken cognisance of submissions by Michel’s lawyers that his handover to India in 2018 by the UAE authorities was a “swap deal” for Princess Latifa. The Ministry of External Affairs had, however, rejected these charges and termed the WGAD’s opinion as one based on “limited information” and “biased allegations”.

`Rakesh Asthana wanted me to sign false confession naming Rahul, Sonia Gandhi, Ahmed Patel’

Significantly, in Michel’s letter written on October 5, 2021, and submitted to the British High Commission in New Delhi – a copy of which is with The Wire – he has accused former Central Bureau of Investigation special director Rakesh Asthana of telling him in a meeting in Dubai “to sign a false confession naming Rahul and Sonia Gandhi and Ahmed Patel (a senior Congress leader) in corruption”. Asthana was later made commissioner of the Delhi Police in July 2021.

Michel wrote that he was told in the meeting, which took place in mid-May 2018 at the Hyatt Hotel, Dubai and which was also attended by nearly five UAE officials, that “if I refuse, I will be taken to India, put in jail for a long time and if one day I get bail, I will not be allowed to travel and be kept in India for 20 years”.


Also read: French Captain to File Suit Over 2018 Capture of Dubai Princess, Case to ‘Also be Against India’


Michel, whose lawyers had earlier also claimed that his hand over to India in 2018 by the UAE authorities was a “swap deal” for Princess Latifa, daughter of the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, reiterated the charge in his letter to Johnson.

He wrote that a friend of his, who was earlier with the UK’s foreign ministry “came to see me in Dubai in April 2018 and told me, I am to be exchanged for Princess Latifa who was abducted off her yacht in international waters off the coast of India by Indian Coast Guard, Indian marine commandos (Marcos) and UAE soldiers on 4 March, 2018”.

According to Michel, “Latifa was taken to India and flown back to Dubai.” Explaining to Johnson the gravity of the incident, he added, “…to be clear what we are talking about, passengers and crew were tied up, some crew were severely beaten, shots fired and Latifa said she was dragged off by the Indian attackers.” All this while, he said, she cried: “You can’t get me back alive. Don’t take me back, shoot me here. Don’t take me back.”

Sheikha Latifa.

`Dubai ruler urged Modi to kidnap his daughter’

Citing the court proceedings before Sir Andrew McFarlane from the family division of the London high court, Michel wrote that the judge recorded that Maktoum had “requested Modi to kidnap his daughter, who had only 7 days earlier escaped from Dubai. My friend explained, Modi in return demanded my rendition from Dubai to India.”

Michel added in the letter that “if I had any doubt about my exchange for Latifa, in mid-May 2018, I was called with my lawyers to a meeting with UAE representatives and an Indian representative”.

During this meeting with Asthana and other officials, Michel wrote that he was told “if I sign I will be made a witness, the Red Notice will be dropped and I will not have to go to India. Asthana made it very clear a deal has been done and law will not save you, you will be taken to India”.

Over three meetings, he added, he refused to sign. Then, Michel wrote, “I was arrested on 14 June.” He added that “over 130 days in jail (in UAE), I never was allowed to see my Dubai lawyers, I was never presented in court and to this day I have never even been allowed to see my extradition notice”.

`Flown to India on December 4, 2018, subjected to rights abuse’

Though on November 14, 2018, according to Michel, “I heard that the UAE Supreme Court had rejected India’s extradition request”, “the next day a new Supreme Court was ordered to retry the case of extradition”. He added that when his Italian lawyer rushed to Dubai, he was arrested at the airport on some “rubbish charge”.

Michel said “on the 4th of December, I was blindfolded, handcuffed and pushed on a private jet”. Once in India, he claimed, he was “subjected to riotous, free-wheeling human rights abuse”. He said he was interrogated extensively and the British High Commission were refused access for 40 days.

He insisted that for 40 days, there were “threats” but “no trial” and all this while there was “continual pressure to sign a false confession”.

`Sheikh wanted to protect his own reputation’

Michel also wrote to Johnson about why the abduction of Princess Latifa took place:

“For his Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, it is clear. His daughter Latifa was escaping his abusive father and threatening to expose all about his highness and the UAE just as the World Exposition was in preparation. As Latifa said, ‘He will kill people to protect his own reputation.’”

As for Modi, Michel wrote, “it is a well established principal (sic) that every crime has a motive.”

He added that “Modi was misinformed (by a senior Italian politician, who till today will not answer questions to Italy’s Parliament) that I am an important financier of the Gandhi family”.

As such, Michel wrote, “Modi thought after his failure to extradite me in 2017 (that) if he could rendition me to India in 2018 in exchange for Latifa in time for the early 2019 Indian elections, I could be made to make statements against the Gandhi family and improve his chances no end.”


Also read: UK Govt Tells Christian Michel It Takes Report of His Arbitrary Detention ‘Very Seriously’


Michel added that if Latifa’s exchange for him was seen as a “coincidence”, then one should “look at Modi’s own words spoken at a huge rally in Rajasthan just after my rendition on 4th December 2018”.

Extract of Christian Michel’s handwritten letter

In the rally in December 2018, Michel quoted Modi as saying: “Under the regime of the United Progressive Alliance a VVIP chopper scam took place. We came to power, an investigation was conducted into it and one person from Dubai was found guilty for his involvement in the case. Now this `razdaar’ (custodian of secrets) will reveal all the secrets.”

Michel proclaimed that “This is Modi’s motive. Sir it is quite pointless to deny this. It is out”.

`Open show of contempt for international, maritime law’

Michel also wrote to Johnson, “There is one last question under why. Why did Modi send an armada to abduct one little girl off an unarmed boat?”

He then went to provide the answer himself, saying: “This was an open show of contempt for international law, maritime law and all manner of internationally accepted human rights norms. This attack in international waters was a statement to the West by two leaders. ‘We are sovereign. We are above the law and we don’t need the West, its laws or its human rights.’”

Reminding Johnson of how the first principles of constitutional democracy were inscribed in stone in Magna Carta in 1215 with the words, “Be ye ever so high the law is above you”, Michel said “ensuring accountability for such crimes is fundamental to the community of nations”.

Michel has also written that the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate have not taken him for interrogation for the past six months and yet Tihar’s most dangerous convicts have been placed with him.

“The Modi government have realised I am not going to break. (But) They cannot just let me go without a political expedient face-saving solution (sic).”

As for his hunger strike to seek his release, Michel wrote, that in his ward this “is not a big deal” for in any other country such a ward would be called death row since most of the inmates there had received a death sentence.

Through the nine-page handwritten letter, Michel urged Johnson to “do what your government promised to the British people – `Apply to Indians or those in countries that are allies or friends’ – sanctions for human rights abusers.”

He said his hunger strike will commence on November 25 and continue “until such time as your government announce their intention to apply UK’s global human rights (Magnitsky) sanction regime against those individuals and or entities involved in the attack on the Nostromo (yacht), the abduction of Latifa, passengers and crew in international waters on 4 March, 2018.”

The Magnitsky legislation was passed by the UK in July 2020 and has already led to the sanctioning of a number of individuals from different countries.

https://thewire.in/rights/chistian-michel-boris-johnson-letter-modi-princess-latifa

Christian Michel’s Claims of Coercion, Torture Could Spark Fresh Diplomatic Challenges for India

A 35-page letter written by the Agusta scam ‘middleman’ to Boris Johnson could throw a wrench in Mallya’s extradition and comes even as a UN Working Group is expected to issue a ruling on Michel’s complaint.

Ashis Ray
February 8, 2021, The Wire

A 35-page letter written by VVIP chopper scam accused Christian Michel to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about his alleged mistreatment in Tihar Jail could prove to be embarrassing for the Narendra Modi government and potentially also affect the extradition of fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya to India.

Michel, 56, is charged for his alleged role as a middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal.

He has been in Tihar Jail for 25 months and claims he was snatched illegally from Dubai in an “unlawful handover to the Indian authorities by the UAE as part of a quid pro quo for the return of (the daughter of Dubai’s ruler and the UAE Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) Sheikha Latifa (by Indian coastguards)”.

In his letter, Michel says he is being detained (in Tihar) “in conditions that can only be described (as being) in flagrant breach of the fundamental guarantees under national and international law and breaches minimum standards for prisoners”.

Asked to comment on the letter, the British Foreign Office said: “The Foreign Secretary (Dominic Raab) raised it (the matter of Michel’s incarceration) with India’s Minister of External Affairs, Dr S. Jaishankar, during his visit to India in December 2020.”

Michel’s description of his experience in Indian prison, if accurate, could possibly deter Britain’s consideration of the Indian government’s request to extradite Mallya, owner of the now defunct Kingfisher Airlines, to face justice in India.

Mallya’s extradition is awaiting a ruling by the UK’s home secretary Priti Patel, following the London high court rejecting the businessman’s appeal against deportation. There has, though, been a perplexing delay in Patel’s ratification since the court order was passed last April. It is widely reported – though not officially acknowledged in so many words – that Mallya has applied for asylum in Britain and this entreaty is being addressed at present.

UN group support?

Meanwhile, London lawyers Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers recently confirmed what was reported in December by the UK’s Mail on Sunday about a petition of complaint that Michel had filed with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture on the matter.

“We fully expect the UN Working Group to rule that Christian is being arbitrarily detained and recommend his immediate release,” the law firm said, adding: “That ruling is imminent.”

A source at UNWGAD said: “Check in a week.”

Controversial chopper deal

In 2010, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government ordered the Italian company Finmeccanica’s British-made AgustaWestland VVIP helicopters pursuant to an observation in November 2003 by the late Brajesh Mishra, principal secretary to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, which said the “altitude requirement is unrealistic and has effectively led to a single vendor situation”. The contract was worth £500 million and the relaxation of the height requirement brought several helicopter vendors into the fray, the government said at the time.

The Narendra Modi government has alleged Michel had paid bribes to the Gandhi family of the Congress party to obtain the order. Guernica, who are acting on Michel’s behalf, maintained: “This unsupported allegation has been rejected twice by the Italian courts, due to the complete absence of evidence as to Christian’s involvement in any fraudulent activity.” One of the judges in Italy remarked the charge against Michel was “an accusatory hypothesis” and that there is “conclusively no evidence of corruption”.

Michel, a consultant in the armaments and aviation business, ran his operations out of Dubai. At the Modi dispensation’s request, Interpol issued a Red Notice in his name in 2015. He was consequently arrested in the UAE, but released on bail by providing a surety of £200,000 and debarred from departing the Emirates.

Guernica contended: “It is important to emphasise that the first request for Christian’s extradition from the UAE to India failed due to lack of evidence and the Indian authorities’ inability to substantiate the allegations.” It further pointed out that New Delhi renewed the extradition procedure after Latifa was returned to her father with Indian help; and also significantly, two days after Michel had refused to sign a confession presented to him by the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The 19-page petition on behalf of Michel submitted to UNWGAD said Rakesh Asthana of the CBI met him in January 2018. It then said: “Mr Asthana produced a 20-page confession that he wanted the petitioner to sign this written confession incriminating him in the alleged corruption concerning the sale of AgustaWestland helicopters sold to the Government of India in 2010.”

Dubai princess case

In November 2019, litigation arose in the Family Division of London’s High Court between Maktoum and his sixth wife Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, half-sister of the present ruler of Jordan King Abdullah II, for the custody of their two children after cracks had appeared in the marriage. The fact-finding process focussed on two of the Sheikh’s older children, Sheikha Shamsa and Latifa.

Haya, Latifa’s stepmother, deposed to the court: “Latifa was forcibly returned to Dubai from international waters on 4 March 2018. That forcible return involved armed Indian coastguard forces boarding and commandeering the boat upon which Latifa was travelling in international waters, 20 nautical miles off the coast of India.”

In December 2019, Justice Sir Andrew McFarlane, president of the Family Division, handed down in his judgement: “The description of the way in which Latifa was treated by the Indian security services and also, once the Arabic man (her father’s agent) had identified her, does not give any indication that this was a ‘rescue’ (her father’s story) rather than a ‘capture’.

From UAE to India

When the second extradition process was initiated after Latifa was returned by India to her father, Michel was once more summoned to meet with CBI officials.

This time, the petition to UNWGAD outlined, “he was asked to sign a forged budget sheet stating he had paid (the late Congress leader) Ahmed Patel and the Gandhi family. The petitioner states that he was told if he did this he would be made a witness to the proceedings and that all charges against him would be dropped, as well as the Red Notice being removed. However, he was threatened that if he did not cooperate he would be taken to India and detained in jail there.”

At the Dubai court in October 2018, Michel’s lawyer Abdulmunem Bin Suwaidan noted, the request should have come from the Indian home ministry, but had instead been presented by its ministry of external affairs; that inadequate and invalid evidence was submitted by Indian authorities; that the 2015 Interpol move for an arrest had said money to bribe Indian politicians had been paid by Finmeccanica to Michel “and his company Global Services – Dubai Free Zone Authority”, thereby meaning the crime had allegedly been committed by an UAE-based company and so he had to be prosecuted in the UAE; that the Indian pursuit of Michel was of a political nature (which according to the Indo-UAE treaty disqualifies an extradition demand); the request violated law governing double jeopardy, since a higher Italian court dismissed accusations against Michel; and Italy did not surrender Michel to India.

But these arguments appeared to not be convincing enough for the Dubai judge.

On December 4, 2018, Michel, the petition detailed, “was handcuffed, blindfolded and transported by a private jet” from Dubai to Delhi. “The process,” the application asserted, “was more akin to rendition as there was little recourse to a legal process.”

It went on to allege: “It is submitted that in the case of the petitioner, the treatment he has endured once extradited to India clearly amounts to torture.”

Michel was grilled by the CBI for 15 days after his arrival, with “the first night of interrogation lasting until 4:00am”. The petition also added that he was “threatened throughout that if he did not cooperate, he would be beaten and made to stand up all night”. It further alleged: “Every day following this the petitioner was interrogated for no less than 21 hours and in the very brief periods of time that he was able to sleep the guards proceeded to switch the lights on and off repeating the same statement over and over ‘Tell us you paid AP and the Gandhi family’.”

After 15 days, Michel was handed over to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) of the Union Finance Ministry “where the same treatment continued”. Apparently failing to make progress, Naresh Malik of the ED emailed Michel’s Italian lawyer Rosemary Patrizi on January 14, 2019 seeking evidence against her client. This seemed to indicate the Indian agencies did not possess sufficient proof of his guilt prior to extraditing Michel from Dubai – a prerequisite for deportation, Patrizi claimed.

After being “interrogated for 600 hours over a 30-day period”,Michel was sent to Tihar, where he was put in an isolation cell reserved for dangerous criminals before a judge felt this was too extreme.

The submission also asserted the Modi government had violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which India acceded to in 1979. India is yet to ratify the Convention against Torture, which it signed in 1997. But Michel’s lawyers argued: “Under Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, India is under an obligation not to defeat the object and purpose of a treaty prior to its entry into force.” A parallel plea on almost identical lines was made by a French human rights advocate Jessica Finelle of Paris-based firm Zimeray and Finelle.

UNWGAD is a highly confidential process. But on receiving the complaint, the body wrote to the Indian and UAE governments on May 8, 2020, on what it called “deprivation of liberty of Mr Christian Michel”. The UAE has not replied. On June 26, 2020 India’s Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva responded: “It is not correct to say that no due process was followed in extradition of Mr Michel.”

Michel’s Indian advocate Aljo Joseph told this writer, “He’s lost a lot of weight since being taken into custody, he didn’t have use of a proper toilet to start with and finds it difficult to eat the indifferent food offered to him.”

In a letter dated September 20 last from Tihar, Michel informed a prominent BBC broadcaster: “I am lodged in ward no 6 …..All of us [here] have one thing in common. We are all being pressurized to make a deal in exchange for our freedom.” He continued: “Each of the so called pillars of democracy (in India) have been ideologically politicized to a point of buffoonery.”

In the same communication he claimed he had previously corresponded with Home Secretary Patel, expressing outrage. “At the time,” he wrote, “I was incensed that the UK was still extraditing people to the failed state of India.” Barrister Toby Cadman, a co-founder of Guernica, attested: “Yes that looks like his (Michel’s) handwriting.” Patel was requested to comment on the claim. She neither confirmed nor denied receiving the letters.

Mallya case

The buck stops with Patel on the issue of Mallya’s extradition to India. Under rules of procedure in Britain, once a court orders deportation and this is not challenged at a higher court (in this case the UK’s Supreme Court), the country’s home secretary has to sign off or otherwise on implementation.

Her predecessor, Sajid Javid, did so after the magistrates’ court’s decision; but this was nullified by Mallya appealing to the London High Court.

Patel’s sense of judgment, though, has been called into question, following an inquiry last year which found evidence she had broken the ministerial code. Johnson ignored the finding. His independent adviser on ministerial standards Sir Alex Allan resigned as a result.

The Indian government has put relentless pressure on its British counterpart on Mallya’s extradition. The magistrates’ court’s judgement was not delivered until December 2018 and the London High Court did not reject Mallya’s appeal until April 2020. Yet, in March 2017, the late Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley raised the subject with Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond when they met in London. Notably, the then Prime Minister Theresa May broke protocol to join this meeting. Then in April 2018, Modi brought it up again with May.

This writer understands that the only British cabinet minister the Indian High Commissioner Ruchi Ghanashyam met during her term from November 2018 to April 2020 was Patel. Additional indirect persuasion on the latter, who as home secretary is a key arbiter on the matter of extraditing Mallya, has reportedly come from a section of Gujarati-extraction Britons, who are linked to UK-based front organisations of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). This includes the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) – who were once warned by the UK’s Charity Commission for preaching hatred of Muslims to Hindu children – and Overseas Friends of BJP. They have pressurised British MPs with large Gujarati constituents and peers, who are beholden to them for making it to the House of Lords.

When foreign secretary Harsh Shringla visited London in November, he, too, called on Patel in what can only be described as a slightly unusual meeting for a senior Indian diplomat, who normally restrict his or her engagements to counterparts at the foreign office or mandarins at Downing Street.

Tamal Bandyopadhyay’s recently published book Pandemonium: The Great Indian Banking Tragedy has also exposed facts unknown to British courts when they considered the Indian government’s application for Mallya’s extradition. On the Kingfisher Airline saga, he depicts in detail the 2017 arrests of five executives of IDBI Bank (who lent funds to Mallya) and four Kingfisher Airlines officials, who were placed in CBI custody without being granted recourse to a lawyer.

He narrates the executives were squeezed into one room and made to sleep on a durrie, with no pillows or blankets. The bankers arrested included Yogesh Agarwal, who was chairman of the bank when the last loan to Kingfisher Airlines was extended. He and B K Batra, former deputy managing director of IDBI, were kept behind bars for 54 days before they were released.

Even after 44 months a matter directly related to the charge against Mallya and touted as an open-and-shut case, was yet to go to trial, let alone be decided. It would be surprising if his lawyers didn’t highlight this to buttress their case.

Likely grounds?

If UNWGAD deduces Michel has been arbitrarily detained and recommends he be immediately released, Finelle said Indian authorities may be asked he be “compensated for the prejudice suffered” and the British government would have to take cognizance of the degrading and lawless treatment meted out to one of its citizens.

In other words, it could make it harder for the UK’s home office to justify denying asylum to Mallya. Michel’s letter to Johnson could add to the arguments towards that.

Sarosh Zaiwalla, senior partner at London solicitors Zaiwalla & Co, when asked for his opinion, first clarified: “My firm has never been consulted by Vijay Mallya in respect of the Crown Prosecution’s extradition application or his reported asylum application.”

He, then, stated: “The UK Human Rights Act 1998 protects the asylum seeker even if the asylum seeker does not qualify for refugee status. (Mallya enjoys ‘leave of indefinite stay’ in Britain.) The Human Rights Act enables an English Court to prohibit removal when the return of the asylum seeker to the home country would otherwise result in a ‘real risk’ of ill-treatment in his home country contrary to Article 3 of the international Human Rights Convention. The risk of ill-treatment would include inhuman treatment; and the court will gauge applying western standards.”

Zaiwalla summarised: “I am not aware of the grounds and facts Mallya is relying upon to seek asylum. But in my view the reported long detention without bail or a quick trial of Christian Michel and the alleged torture he is said to have undergone during investigation whilst in detention would in my view themselves be likely grounds for Mallya succeeding with his asylum application.”

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs were given opportunities to comment. Neither responded.

https://thewire.in/external-affairs/christian-michels-claims-of-coercion-torture-could-spark-fresh-diplomatic-challenges-for-india

UN to call for release of British businessman held in Indian jail over £500m helicopter deal

Charles Hymas
January 31, 2021, The Telegraph

Christian Michel alleges he was tortured in a notorious prison after refusing to sign a fake confession

The United Nations is to demand the release of a British businessman held without conviction in an Indian jail for two years over his role in a £500 million helicopter deal.

Christian Michel, 59, alleges he was tortured after refusing to sign a fake confession that he bribed Indian officials in order to secure the helicopter deal for the Anglo-Italian firm AugustaWestland for which he was acting as a consultant.

He has been held in the notorious Tihar jail in Delhi alongside murderers, rapists and terrorists since being extradited to India in December 2018 from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he was working.

Toby Cadman, a leading human rights lawyer working pro bono to free him, said there was evidence of a “quid pro quo” deal in which Mr Michel was extradited after India handed over a runaway Dubai princess to the UAE following her capture by Indian coastguards when they boarded her yacht.

The Dubai princess – Sheikha Latifa – made headlines in 2018 with a YouTube video accusing her father, Dubai’s ruler, of kidnapping her sister after she escaped her family’s estate on a trip to Britain in 2000 and then keeping her in drugged isolation ever since.

Sheikha Latifa

A damning UK family court judgment found her father Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum guilty of orchestrating the abductions of his two daughters – the other from the streets of Cambridge – in potential breach of international law.

Mr Cadman, of Guernica 37 chambers who also represented Princess Latifa, said the swap deal from the UAE, the imprisonment and treatment of Mr Michel was “arbitrary,” “inhumane” and flouted international law.

He said Mr Michel had been caught up in a “politically-motivated” case in which the ruling BJP party was trying to tar the previous Congress Party administration with corruption over the helicopter deal.

Mr Cadman has filed a petition of complaint to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture which are expected to rule in favour of Mr Michel within weeks.

Mr Michel has also written to Boris Johnson from his prison cell, urging him to intervene both in his case and that of a British cellmate, Jagtar Singh Johal, from Dumbarton, who has been held without conviction in India for three years on “false” terror charges and who also alleges torture.

In his letter seen by The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Michel said all he wanted was “unconditional bail.” He said he was prepared to stand trial but would not “bear false witness” to support the BJP party’s allegations of corruption.

“If I was going to run I would have run from Dubai,” he wrote. “My trial will take 20 years…I like India and Indian people, and after 20 years the trial will collapse as is normal in such cases, and most of the witnesses and accused will have died of old age.

“Prime Minister I request that you move on my requests, if not I am stuck and will have no choice but to go on hunger strike.”

The bribery allegations have been heard twice by an Italian court and rejected as “conclusively having no evidence of corruption.” Mr Michel’s extradition was initially refused by the UAE due to a “lack of evidence and unsubstantiated allegations.”

But an identical extradition application was submitted after India had handed over Princess Latifa to the UAE and it was accepted. Mr Michel was extradited to India where he claims he was questioned for 14 hours a day for two weeks without sleep.

The Indian Government has denied that “no due process was followed in the extradition” of Mr Michel or that he has been subject to torture.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2021/01/31/un-call-release-british-businessman-held-indian-jail-500m-helicopter/

Chopper scam-accused Christian Michel pens 35-page letter to British govt

Naomi Canton
January 25, 2021, The Times of India

AugustaWestland chopper scam accused British national Christian Michel who has been languishing in Tihar Jail for two years has written a handwritten letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, foreign secretary Dominic Raab and home secretary Priti Patel calling on the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to intervene in his case, claiming his extradition from Dubai to India was politically-motivated and that he has been tortured.

In the 35-page correspondence, which his lawyer, Toby Cadman, of Guernica 37 International Justice Chambers, released on Saturday, Michel, 54, sets out his dismay at the failings of the British government to help and claims he was handed over to the Indian authorities “unlawfully” by the UAE “as part of a quid pro quo for the return of Sheikha Latifa”.

In March 2018, the 35-year-old daughter of Dubai’s billionaire ruler was intercepted on a yacht about 50 miles off the coast of Goa in a joint India-UAE operation and sent back to Dubai.

Michel was extradited from Dubai to India on December 4, 2018.

In the letter, dated January 7, Michel writes that the first request for his extradition from the UAE to India failed and the second request “coincided with the handing over of Sheikha Latifa to Dubai by the Indian authorities”.

He states that the Indian government “reinstated the extradition procedure” two days after a meeting took place between him and a senior CBI official in May 2018 after he “refused to cooperate in signing a 20-page confession incriminating himself”.

Michel also claims that whilst imprisoned in Dubai, awaiting extradition, he was prevented from accessing his lawyer and denied private consular access.

In Tihar jail, he claims he has been subjected to “repeated and prolonged interrogations aimed at securing a confession by way of duress”, as well as “inhuman or degrading treatment that… constitutes torture.”

In April 2019, Cadman filed an urgent communication with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and with the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture against both the UAE and India with regard to Michel.

“We fully expect the UN Working Group to rule that Christian is being arbitrarily detained and recommend his immediate release. That ruling is imminent,” he said.

“The process that led to his removal from the UAE was a politically motivated decision. This extradition process can only be defined as a political extradition or better, a political rendition. The complete lack of due process is utterly unacceptable. He has been detained in conditions that can only be described in flagrant breach of the fundamental guarantees under national and international law. The FCDO must take immediate steps to intervene,” Cadman said.

Michel is accused of bribing and criminally conspiring with Indian officials to win a contract on behalf of British helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland for 12 VVIP helicopters in 2010 and of receiving Rs 375 crore (€ 42.27million) in kickbacks for securing the deal.

A UK government spokesperson said: “Our staff continue to support a British man who has been detained in Delhi since 2018 and regularly raise his case with the Indian authorities. The Foreign Secretary raised it with India’s Minister of External Affairs, Dr Jaishankar, during his visit to India in December 2020. Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon has met with his family based in the UK, and we continue to provide them with updates on his case.”

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/uk/chopper-scam-accused-christian-michel-pens-35-page-letter-to-british-govt/articleshow/80426964.cms