Michel threatens to go on hunger strike in letter to Boris Johnson | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Michel threatens to go on hunger strike in letter to Boris Johnson

By, New Delhi
Nov 19, 2021 12:41 AM IST

He said in his letter, handed over to a British diplomat during a consular access meeting at Delhi’s Tihar jail on November 9, that his hunger strike will continue till the UK government announces its intention to apply the “Magnitsky” sanctions regime against those involved in the “abduction” of Princess Latifa of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in international waters off the coast of India on March 4, 2018.

Christian Michel, the alleged middleman in the AgustaWestland VVIP helicopter deal, has written a letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson about his intention to go on a hunger strike from November 25 unless the British government takes action on his case.

Christian Michel, a British national, has been held in India since December 2018 after being extradited from the UAE. (PTI)
Christian Michel, a British national, has been held in India since December 2018 after being extradited from the UAE. (PTI)

He said in his letter, handed over to a British diplomat during a consular access meeting at Delhi’s Tihar jail on November 9, that his hunger strike will continue till the UK government announces its intention to apply the “Magnitsky” sanctions regime against those involved in the “abduction” of Princess Latifa of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in international waters off the coast of India on March 4, 2018.

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Michel, a British national, has been held in India since December 2018 after being extradited from the UAE. He and his legal team have for long contended the UAE granted his extradition in exchange for the seizure and return of the princess.

The UK established the Magnitsky or global human rights sanctions regime during 2020-21 to target those responsible for human rights violations or corruption. The name is derived from Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian tax lawyer who uncovered a $230-million fraud committed by tax officials in 2007, and was jailed on charges of tax evasion in 2008 and died in prison the following year.

There was no response from Indian officials to requests for a comment on the matter.

Michel was living in Dubai when India sought his extradition for involvement in alleged irregularities in the 2010 deal to acquire 12 AgustaWestland helicopters worth 556.2 million euros. At the time, he was a middleman and an external consultant for a subsidiary of AgustaWestland.

Michel has denied involvement in wrongdoing and pointed to the acquittal in Italy of two senior executives of AgustaWestland as proof that there was no corruption in the deal.

In March, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD), which operates under the office of the UN high commissioner for human rights, called on the Indian government to immediately release Michel as his detention was arbitrary and violated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The external affairs ministry has rejected the UN expert panel’s findings and said the conclusions were based on “biased allegations from an unidentified source and on an inaccurate understanding of India’s criminal justice system”.

In his letter to the British prime minister, which was accessed by Hindustan Times, Michel repeated his allegation that he was pressured by a senior CBI official in Dubai to sign a “false confession” naming leaders of the Congress party.

“Sir, I think it is apparent that after 3 years without charge or trial there is no judicial process for political prisoners,” Michel wrote in the nine-page handwritten letter.

“Prime Minister I have done all I can to work with due process for 130 days in jail in Dubai and 3 years [in] jail in India. It’s not working,” he added. “I have heard people say I am probably guilty. That is for the court to decide. All I want is a trial, I don’t even ask for a fair one.”

During the November 9 meeting with Edward Bossley, the UK consul to India, Michel made it clear that he could not make a “deal because what ED/CBI wanted him to say to take a deal was simply not true”, people familiar with the matter said on condition of anonymity.

The UK side has not publicly commented on Michel’s case but British officials, including Tariq Ahmad, the minister of state for South Asia and the Commonwealth, and former foreign secretary Dominic Raab have taken up the matter with foreign secretary Harsh Shringla, and the Indian high commissioner in London, and external affairs minister S Jaishankar between May and July this year.

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