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The acquittal of former top executives of Finmeccanica and AgustaWestland-- Giuseppe Orsi and Bruno Spagnolini -- will have no bearing on the CBI case as it is based on an independent investigation with strong evidence, senior central agency officials said today. The comments came after Orsi, ex-president of defence and aerospace giant Finmeccanica, and Spagnolini, a former CEO of the company's helicopters subsidiary AgustaWestland, were acquitted by an Italian court today. The officials said the same set of evidence had resulted in their conviction earlier. The sources said the case in Italian courts is based on the evidence gathered by the Italian authorities whereas the CBI carried out a completely independent investigation in the matter. They said there is an option of appeal with Italian authorities even after the order of the Milan court of appeals. "We have had a completely different probe.
We have very strong case," CBI Spokesperson Abhishek Dayal said here. In Italy, criminal sentences are not usually considered definitive until the appeals process has been exhausted. The case against Orsi and Spagnolini resulted from an investigation launched in 2012 by Italian authorities looking into alleged corruption into the sale of 12 helicopters to India for the use of VVIPs worth Rs 3600 crore. The two were accused of international corruption and false invoicing in relation to bribes exchanged for the contract with India. Both were cleared on charges of committing international corruption at the first-instance trial in 2014 but convicted of false invoicing and sentenced to two years in prison. Both appealed against the conviction, while the prosecution appealed against the acquittal on the corruption charge. In December 2016, the supreme court of cassation ordered a repeat of the appeals trial. Milan's third court of appeal today acquitted Orsi and Spagnolini, who were serving four-and-a-half years and four years sentences under the charges.