• Tuesday, April 16, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

British man’s son criticises government over father’s India detention

British national Christian Michel James (C) (AFP via Getty Images)

Pramod ThomasBy: Pramod Thomas

THE son of a British man held in an Indian jail for more than five years awaiting trial on Tuesday (2) criticised the government over its response to the case.

Arms dealer Christian Michel, 62, has been detained in India since December 2018 after being extradited from the United Arab Emirates over a helicopter deal.

India’s Supreme Court last month refused to intervene in the case, which has been linked with a Dubai princess who claims she was kidnapped, and has attracted international attention.

Rights experts have called for Michel to be freed, with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) arguing his imprisonment lacked a legal basis.

It had also raised concerns that his extradition was “a de facto swap” for India’s capture and return of an unnamed high-profile detainee to Dubai in March 2018.

Reacting to the latest court decision, one of Michel’s sons, Alois, said the family had previously written to former prime minister Boris Johnson and the country’s current leader Rishi Sunak about the case.

But he said they had not received a response from either, which Alois Michel branded an “intolerable attitude towards one of their own nationals”.

The 26-year-old said they had also tried to lobby the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office but had again failed to make headway.

“My father is now an example of the risks it represents to be extradited to India as one’s rights may not be upheld,” Alois Michel said.

“He has neither been tried nor has he been found guilty even after 63 months in incarceration, which exceeds the expected time for such condemnation, underlining the ridiculousness of this case.”

Michel’s detention has suspected links to Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum.

She was captured by Indian commandos at sea in 2018 after trying to flee the UAE.

In videos secretly sent to friends she has said she was abducted by her family, something her relatives have denied, insisting she is being cared for at home.

In 2022, she assured the UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet during a meeting in Paris that she was well and asked for “respect for her privacy,” according to the High Commissioner.

Britain’s Sky News television has previously acquired video of Michel — filmed while he was in detention in Dubai — in which he links his pending extradition to Latifa’s case.

He was working in the UAE as a middleman and consultant for a subsidiary of the Anglo-Italian firm AgustaWestland, itself a subsidiary of aerospace and defence group Finmeccanica.

He was accused of arranging kickbacks to Indian officials to secure a deal to supply 12 helicopters in 2010.

India cancelled the deal in January 2014 amid allegations of bribery.

(AFP)

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