"Congress president Sonia Gandhi is the driving force behind this deal and she will no longer fly in the existing MI-8 choppers," is what AgustaWestland middleman James Christian had written in a letter to Peter Hulet, the then sale and liaison head of the chopper firm in India. This was quoted by the Milan court in its 225-page judgment.
The verdict convicted Giuseppe Orsi, the AgustaWestland boss and also went on to describe how bribes were paid to some Congress leaders. The verdict also mentions that there was lobbying involved while trying to procure the Rs 3,600 crore deal.
Sonia's name figures four times in the judgment. The name figures on pages 193 and 204. During the course of investigations, a letter, dated March 5, 2008 was seized. The exchange between Michel and Hulet mentions Sonia.
The letter, which was seized from the house of middleman, Guido Haschke adds that the British ambassador should target Sonia and her advisors. Haschke had identified all the Congress leaders when the photographs were shown to him in court. The judgment also goes on to state that a total commission of 30 million Euros (Rs 214 crore) was paid off to political leaders, the Indian bureaucracy and the Force officials.
More persons to be questioned:
Meanwhile in India, the CBI is all set to seek a clarification from former prime minister, Dr Manmohan Singh in connection with this case. Former Air Chief S P Tyagi,who was arrested by the CBI had told a court on Saturday that everyone was in the know of the decision to reduce the ceiling height which helped AgustaWestland bag the deal.
The CBI, which studied these documents has now decided to probe the role of a top Congressman. The agency says that the probe is based on the 225 page order of the Milan court. In addition, the agency is also studying the statements which are part of the annexures in the order.
The order mentions the names of several Congress leaders. The communication between these leaders and the middlemen is also being looked into. The Milan court's judgment makes a mention of the conversation between Haschke and middleman James Christian Michel.
The court also studied the documents that were seized from Haschke. Further investigators are also looking into the conversations between Haschke and Michel.