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Jul 30, 2013 at 10:45am IST

AgustaWestland deal: 70 secret Indian defence documents seized

New Delhi: In the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland VVIP chopper deal probe, Italian prosecutors have claimed that 70 top secret Indian Defence Ministry documents were stored in the hard disc of the company's computers. The documents were seized from middlemen Carlos Gerosa and Guido Haschke.

The information was related to how India lowered the maximum height at which the proposed VVIP helicopters could fly from 6,000 meters to 5,000 meters.

In other damaging revelatons, the prosecutors also said that the Central Bureau of Investigation was not doing enough to find hidden details of the scandal. It also said that none of former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi's cousins have been arrested despite proof of their role.

There was also no mention of Defence Minister AK Antony during the proceedings although he has been cited as a witness. India has already said he cannot appear in any foreign court.

Reports from Italy had said that a judge in the city Busto Arsizio had earlier 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 the supply of 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs.

Three of the helicopters had been delivered before corruption was reported in the deal.

Former Air Chief Tyagi and his three cousins had been questioned by the CBI in connection with allegations of kickbacks to the tune of Rs 362 crore in the deal. Tyagi had denied any wrongdoing.

Although reports hyad said all the witnesses cleared by the judge may not be called to testify, high-level sources in the Defence Ministry said there was no question of Antony giving evidence or appearing in any court outside India.

Former Finmeccannica chairman Guiseppe Orsi has been accused by prosecutors of paying bribes to secure the helicopter deal three years ago when he was head of AgustaWestland.

Another top official of AgustaWestland, its former CEO Bruno Spagnolini is also facing trial in the case. Both had denied wrongdoing.

Reports had said that defence lawyers want Antony to give testimony on the tendering process in India. They also want Tata and Hoon to provide evidence on the defence industry in India.

In the very beginning of the trial, 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.

(With additional inputs from PTI)