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Feb 18, 2013 at 08:42am IST

Chopper deal: Italian secrecy a problem, can't act on media information, says Khurshid

New Delhi: With a CBI team is set to leave for Italy on Monday to investigate the Rs 3,600 crore AgustaWestland helicopter deal, the Indian government is still keeping silence on the details of the case, and the only information making rounds is the one revealed by the Italian probe report. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid speaking to CNN-IBN defended the Indian government saying that the Italian government has asked for secrecy.

"Italian courts have emphasised secrecy, it's impossible to share what's on their records. This is a problem, it is disappointing. I hope in due course we will be able to lay our hands on it. It should explain to people asking why government couldn't do anything for so many months. Government can't act on media information, you need hard evidence," Khurshid said.

Talking further about the tainted helicopter deal Khurshid said, "We will take it up with the Italian government, but we all have limitations. We said rule of law must prevail in the marines case. Courts are autonomous and, at best, submissions by public prosecuters can change some arguments. I hope within the autonomy they have, we can get some information."

"We don't know whether the criminal acts were committed in India, we don't know whether they would be indictable in India. Its very easy to conduct a media trial, we've given case to CBI because we're taking it seriously. We have to act on fact, Khurshid added.

Meanwhile, the CBI has engaged a lawyer in Italy to represent India's case with the Italian government and the local courts to find out the role of Indians in the alleged kickbacks in the VVIP helicopter deal.

The team will try to meet Italian prosecutors to ascertain the details of the case, the sources added. The team comprises a CBI DIG, a law officer of the agency, a Joint Secretary level officer of Defence Ministry and an official of the External Affairs Ministry, the sources said.

The decision by the CBI came as it virtually drew a blank from the Defence Ministry in getting some official inputs regarding alleged kickbacks in the case, sources said further. The CBI was handed over a letter from the Defence Ministry seeking a probe by it in the case which has triggered a storm in the country.

Meanwhile, Former Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi's cousin Sanjeev Tyagi on Saturday rubbished allegations of his involvement in the tainted AgustaWestland chopper deal in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN. Speaking to Rajdeep Sardesai, Sanjeev, who is mentioned in the Italian probe reports as 'Julie' Tyagi, said that the allegations against him and his cousin SP Tyagi were baseless and had maligned the image of their families.

"I have no links with AgustaWestland. I am not aware of any deal. I did not receive any payment. (Guido Ralph) Haschke is lying. Finmeccanica is trying to cover up its own bungling. The charges are baseless. It is very easy to tarnish someone's reputation, but can the media pay it back?" he said.

Sanjeev revealed that he had met Haschke in 2001 in connection with a power sector deal and that he had known Carlo Gerosa, another middleman in the chopper deal, since 1995 through a deal related to the infrastructure sector. He also said that he had met Haschke through Gerosa.

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