AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi's CBI remand extended

Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi , who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on December 9 by the CBI in connection with the case. 

AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi's CBI remand extended

New Delhi: Ex-IAF chief SP Tyagi's will undergo further custodial questioning for three more days as CBI on Wednesday told a court that AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam was a "very serious" case requiring his interrogation to unearth the larger conspiracy as the "interest of the nation was compromised".

Special CBI Judge Arvind Kumar his custody till December 17 along with that of his cousin Sanjeev alias Julie and advocate Gautam Khaitan, also accused in Rs 450 crore chopper deal bribery case.

CBI, however, had sought an extension of their custody by seven days, saying, "It`s a very wide and serious case and some accused and firms from abroad were also involved in the conspiracy. Right now we are handicapped due to want of material.

"It is a very high-profile case and we need proper material. One part of the crime was committed in India while various other angles are in foreign land," CBI said, noting that it has received help from various countries including Italy, Mauritius, Switzerland and the UK.

The agency said that their further custodial interrogation was required to reach the bottom of the conspiracy.

However, the counsel appearing for SP Tyagi opposed CBI's plea, saying that he was "a decorated war hero of the nation" and "CBI, which was termed as 'a caged parrot' by the Supreme Court, is trying to tarnish his image".

"The FIR only says that the ex-ACM 'also' received some amount of cash. It is just a vague allegation," Tyagi's counsel said.

The counsel submitted that SP Tyagi has already been confronted with his cousin and enough confrontation had taken place much before his arrest.

"This arrest was made only for humiliation and not for confrontation," the counsel said.

The court had on December 10 sent the three accused to four days' CBI custody, which expired today, in the case related to procurement of 12 VVIP choppers from UK-based firm during the UPA-2 regime.

During the last hearing, Tyagi's counsel had claimed that the decision to procure VVIP choppers from AgustaWestland was a "collective" one and the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) was also a part of it.

The CBI had alleged that Tyagi had "abused his official position" and when he was the Air Chief Marshal, he had made huge investments in land and other properties and had not disclosed the source his income.

Tyagi's counsel had refuted CBI's claim, saying, "As per the allegations, conspiracy and money transaction were going on much before my client came into picture."

The counsel appearing for the other two arrested accused had also opposed CBI's case saying the FIR was lodged over three years ago and there were no fresh grounds to arrest them at this stage.

The CBI, however, had alleged that Khaitan was the "brain" behind how the bribe money reached India and several firms through which the money travelled came into existence and Sanjeev was known to alleged European middleman Carlo Gerosa.

71-year old Tyagi, who had retired in 2007, his cousin Sanjeev and Khaitan were arrested on December 9 by the agency in connection with the case. 

During the day's proceeding, the CBI also claimed that alleged European middleman Guido Haschke's statement, which was received through LR (Letter Rogatory), proved that he was assured by Sanjeev Tyagi that the latter's brother was going to be Air Chief Marshal.

"The investigation is at a very crucial stage," it said.

The accused persons, however, alleged that the "CBI was trying to extract the confession using force".

While opposing the police plea, Khaitan's counsel said that he was already in the custody of the Enforcement Directorate and that the agency already has all the documents.

"My client has joined the CBI investigation on a number of times since registration of FIR in 2013. What the CBI has been doing all this while," the counsel said.

The counsel for Sanjeev also opposed the CBI plea, saying that the evidence through LR was received much earlier and there was no fresh ground for further custodial interrogation. 

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