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CBI grills former Navy chief over Barak

Agency, sources say, it is also likely to question George Fernandes, former defence minister soon, reports Tushar Srivastava.
Hindustan Times | By Tushar Srivastava, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 05, 2008 03:00 AM IST

The Central Bureau of Investigation questioned the former Navy chief, Admiral Sushil Kumar, on Tuesday in connection with the Barak missile deal case on Tuesday.

The agency, sources said, is also likely to question George Fernandes, former defence minister soon.

Kumar, retired as Navy chief in December 2001. The Barak missile system was purchased despite objections from the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

Along with Kumar and Fernandes, the former president of Samata Party, Jaya Jaitely, RK Jain, former treasurer of the Samata Party and Suresh Nanda are accused in the case registered by the CBI.

In the Barak Missiles Case, in which the preliminary enquiry was converted into a regular case, the contract for seven Barak Anti Missile (AMD) Systems and 200 missiles was signed on October 23, 2000 with M/s Israel Aircraft Industries Limited (IAI), Israel, despite objections by DRDO (Defence Research & Development Organisation) in view of the availability of the indigenous system (Trishul) for adaptation to the Navy.

Rs two crore was allegedly paid to Jaya Jaitely, who functioned from the residence of Fernandes, by middleman/agent, while Jain was given separate bribes to the tune of several lakhs of rupees. The opinion of DRDO was over-ruled by Fernandes at the behest of the middleman/agent, the CBI had alleged.

Kumar was questioned about the alleged presence of middlemen at the house of George Fernandes.

Sushil Kumar had allegedly colluded with other accused and put up a note directly to Fernandes to import seven Barak AMD Systems misrepresenting facts and citing a DRDO concurrence given three years earlier when the indigenous Trishul System was in its initial stages of development and when Kumar had discussed this matter that very day with the then DRDO Chief, who had opposed the proposal.

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