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AgustaWestland scam: Christian Michel detained to return India’s favour?

Advocates for UAE princess Sheikha Latifa Al Maktoum have reacted sharply to reports of the detention of Christian Michel, an accused in the AugustaWestland case, in Dubai.

Radha Stirling, the CEO of Detained in Dubai, who is representing the princess, has alleged that Michel’s detention was a favour returned for the help extended by India in locating and returning the princess to her country.

Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, fled her country to seek asylum in the United States, but was reportedly tracked down and brought back to Dubai.

The princess, who is 32, left Dubai for Oman in the beginning of March. There, she and her friend Tina, a Finnish national, both joined Herve Jaubert on his boat, Nostromo.

The boat was allegedly intercepted on March 4 off the coast of India in international waters. The crew onboard claim it was the Indian authorities who intercepted them.

Sources in the Indian government have denied any involvement in the matter.

Earlier in April, sources in the Goa administration had said that “they had this checked twice since the story appeared and have even checked with fishermen but drawn a blank.”

‘POLITICS OF FAVOURS’

Now, Detained in Dubai is claiming that the Indian government’s request to the UAE for the “extradition” of Christian Michel has to be understood in the context of India’s collaboration with the UAE in the “kidnapping” of the princess.

“What we are seeing is a trend between the two countries to dismiss international legal norms and protocols, and to instead engage in the politics of favours. Indian officials are in the UAE to negotiate the extradition of Mr Michel, while extradition is supposed to be a matter for the courts, not the work of diplomats”, said Radha Stirling’s press release.

Stirling questioned the cooperation seen between India and the UAE in the case of Christian Michel, and the “bypassing” of normal legal procedures and the “rationale” in making such an exception to just one man — while there are many who are in need of such government-to-government cooperation.

“When Prime Minister Modi’s government justified their illegal involvement in the abduction of Princess Latifa, the rationale given was that it was in the national interest of India to cooperate. Well, hundreds of Indian nationals are wrongly jailed in the UAE, and hundreds of thousands more suffer abhorrent conditions in labour camps, in unsafe working conditions, and struggle to survive as employers confiscate their passports and often refuse to pay their wages; yet the Indian government chooses to send officials to the UAE over an extradition request, instead of using their new political capital to improve the lives of Indian expats”, Stirling said.

The Detained in Dubai team and Toby Cadman of Guernica International Justice Chambers are currently pursuing legal actions against both India and the UAE, and are assisting the United Nations and enforcement agencies in their pursuit of this matter.

David Haigh, a partner at Detained in Dubai, said “The Modi administration must be held accountable for their actions in the case of Princess Latifa. They assisted the UAE to return a young woman who specifically told her Indian assailants that she was seeking asylum from torture and abuse. She told them she would rather die than be sent back to the UAE and has not been heard of since. This act has seriously damaged India’s reputation in the area of human rights”.

Detained in Dubai has assisted in over 10,000 cases of legal abuse in the UAE. Many of the victims are Indian nationals.

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Updated: July 23, 2018 — 6:02 am
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