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HomeNewsThree 'absconding' foreign co-accused appear virtually before CBI special court

Three ‘absconding’ foreign co-accused appear virtually before CBI special court

Three co-accused in the ‘3,600-crore VVIP chopper scandal appeared through video conferencing before a special CBI Court here on Saturday.

This is for the first time that the three accused, all residing abroad, have joined the probe by the Central Bureau Investigation.

The three who appeared virtually are: Giuseppe Orsi, former chief executive of aerospace giant Finmeccanica; Bruno Spagnolini, former chief executive of AgustaWestland, and Giacomo Saponaro, the then director of AgustaWestland.

While Orsi and Spagnolini are reportedly residing in Italy, Saponaro is believed to be living in the UK.
The three have been charged by the CBI for alleged involvement in the VVIP chopper deal.

Saponaro, who was charged by the CBI in its supplementary charge sheet in September 2020, was previously arraigned as a “witness” for the agency. The federal investigative agency has alleged that Saponaro was fully aware that Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the deal, was paid to extract confidential information on the transaction, in violation of the contract framed by the Indian government.

The Delhi High Court had recently asked the three accused to appear before the special court virtually, following an appeal filed by Orsi and Spagnolini against a trial court order which in October had dismissed their appeal seeking suspension of proceedings in the trial.

People in the know said that their participation, albeit virtually, comes as a shot in the arm for the investigating agency as this is expected to prepare a legal ground for the CBI to initiate adverse proceedings against them.

“Since they have appeared virtually before the court, the CBI can press for them being declared proclaimed offenders and fugitive economic offenders (FEO) in future, making a strong case for their extradition if they fail to appear in person before the court,” said a senior government official requesting anonymity.

ET was the first to report on Saturday that, in a bid to kickstart the trial pertaining to the VVIP chopper scandal, the CBI had moved a special CBI court.

In an application filed last month, the agency has requested the court to segregate the trial of the accused who have been served summons and joined investigation from those (accused) who have till date either not been served upon or have evaded proceedings.

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