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Def Min awaits chopper trial report from Italy

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Def Min awaits chopper trial report from Italy
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New Delhi: Government is awaiting a report from its embassy and team in Italy to get a final picture on whether Defence Minister A K Antony has been listed as a witness in the VVIP chopper scam trial by a court there.

The Ministry will get a final picture on the developments in the court in Italy after getting a report from the embassy in Rome and the Joint Secretary-led team which had gone there to attend the hearing, Defence Ministry officials said here.

The Ministry is, however, already clear that Antony will not depose or appear as witness before any court outside India, they said.

In the very beginning of the trial on June 19, India had told the Italian court that its orders would not be binding on it and it will have the right to exercise all legal options available to it.

Joint Secretary and Acquisition Manager (Air) Arun Kumar Bal was in Italy representing the Defence Ministry in the hearing yesterday.

Reports yesterday suggested that a judge in the city Busto Arsizio had cleared the names of Antony, former British Defence Minister Geoff Hoon and Ratan Tata among 80 possible witnesses in the trial of former CEO of Italy's Finmeccannica, which had secured a deal with the Indian government for supplying 12 helicopters to ferry VVIPs.

Three of the helicopters had been delivered before corruption was reported in the deal.

Former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi and his three cousins have been questioned by the CBI in connection with allegations of kickbacks to the tune of Rs 362 crore in the deal. Tyagi has denied any wrongdoing.

Former Finmeccannica chairman Guiseppe Orsi has been accused by prosecutors of paying bribes to secure the helicopter deal three years ago when he was head of AgustaWestland.

Another top official of AgustaWestland, its former CEO Bruno Spagnolini is also facing trial in the case. Both have denied wrongdoing. The case will resume on September 17.

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