UAE to extradite Briton wanted in India for VVIP chopper scam
Dubai - AgustaWestland middleman remains behind bars in Dubai since he was arrested.
Christian James Michel, a British middleman wanted by Indian investigative agencies in connection with the AgustaWestland VVIP chopper scam, is to be extradited from the UAE, Dubai's top court ruled on Monday.
The Court of Cassation upheld on Monday a lower court order which said that Michel could be extradited, dismissing appeals filed by his defence lawyers.
A court bench, presided over by judge Abdelaziz Al Zarouni, pronounced the decision in the presence of member judges Musabeh Thaaloub, Mostafa Al Shinawi, Mahmoud Sultan and another judge.
On Monday, Emirati lawyer Abdul Moneim Bin Suwaidan of Bin Suwaidan Firm for Advocates and Legal Counsels, who is representing Michel, submitted documents showing that courts in Switzerland and Italy had ruled on not to extradite his client.
"The judicial authorities there concluded there was no criminal element in the case."
Earlier, Bin Suwaidan argued at Dubai's highest court that the extradition request procedure of Michel would be a "violation" of the international treaty signed between the UAE and India.
Contesting the lower court's ruling, according to which his client could be extradited, the lawyer argued that the Indian authorities did not follow "the proper procedures" when requesting the extradition. "The request should have been filed by India's Ministry of Home Affairs rather than its Ministry of External Affairs."
He contended that the procedure was "flawed" since it did not comply with the clauses of the treaty signed in this regard.
"Accordingly, the lower court order should be reversed," he argued.
The Briton, who is accused of organising bribes in exchange for a contract for VVIP helicopters, filed his appeal before the Dubai Court of Cassation within 30 days after the lower court's ruling.
He remains behind bars in Dubai since he was arrested and sent into custody here pending the legal and judicial procedure.
With Dubai's top court upholding the lower court's decision, it has become final but it will need approval from the UAE Minister of Justice for the extradition procedure to start.
The extradition procedure happens in coordination with the Interpol and the Criminal investigation Department.
Since the appellate court ruled on September 2 that he could be extradited,-in response to a request filed by the Indian authorities to the UAE in connection with corruption-related charges, Michel lost his bail conditions.
Michel, whose passport had been seized by the judicial authorities here and had been granted release on bail, became 'wanted' on September 2, following a decision issued by the Dubai Court of Appeals, according to which he could be extradited to the authorities concerned in India.
Earlier a public prosecution source told Khaleej Times that Michel's extradition request had been denied by Switzerland and Italy.
According to the source, Michel's extradition request had previously been closed administratively here as the necessary papers were not available then from India. Once his file was complete, the case was re-opened. He was summoned and confronted with the file after.
Michel denied the charges all along and was then granted bail while his passport was deposited at the execution division of the public prosecution.