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Gold Smuggling: Swapna Suresh Claims Some People Threatened Her in Judicial Custody

File photo of Kerala gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh.

File photo of Kerala gold smuggling accused Swapna Suresh.

In the application filed before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court (Economic Offences) Ernakulam, Suresh alleged while she was in the judicial custody in the Women's Prison and Correctional Home at Attakulangara, she was threatened by some persons.

Seeking protection, Swapna Suresh, prime accused in the gold smuggling case, on Tuesday alleged that while she was in judicial remand in a jail in Thiruvananthapuram some people had approached and warned her against disclosing names of those in high authority to investigating agencies. She said this in an application filed in a court here seeking protection in judicial custody.

In the application filed before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court (Economic Offences) Ernakulam, Suresh alleged while she was in the judicial custody in the Women's Prison and Correctional Home at Attakulangara, she was threatened by some persons. They asked her not to disclose names of persons in high authority allegedly involved in the case, she alleged.

"…some persons identifiable by sight claiming to be prison and police officials had visited me and warned me against disclosure of names of persons in high authority suspected to have involved in the alleged criminal activities. "…they had asked me not to cooperate with any investigating agency for the same," Suresh, who is also a detenue undergoing detention under the COFEPOSA Act at the jail, said in the application.

She alleged they had threatened her that they were capable of causing harm to her family outside the prison and even capable of doing away with her inside the prison if she indulges in any such disclosures. Suresh alleged she was threatened on several days prior to November 25, 2020 and finally on November 25.

She filed the plea as her and co-accused Sarith PS's custody granted to the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, probing the dollar smuggling case, ended on Tuesday. The court sent them to judicial remand till December 22.

In her application, Suresh, who has given statements to a judicial magistrate on different occasions, alleged that her statements, recorded by the magistrate, have been made public through news dailies and visual media. "My custody period is over and in all probability I will be taken back to the very same prison for continued detention.I therefore, genuinely apprehend danger to my life and body within the jail premises at the instances of highly influential interested persons.

There is every possibility for me, being subjected to mental and physical torture inside the prison.There is a serious threat to my life while in judicial custody," she submitted in the application, seeking protection. In a related development, the court also extended till December 22 the judicial remand of suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar arrested by the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate probing the gold smuggling case.

The Customs had interrogated the officer in its custody till December 7. In the application seeking extension of the officer's judicial remand, the Customs submitted that during the course of investigation it has been able to get crucial material against Sivasankar.

The present investigation is unprecedented in the history of Kerala, the agency submitted before the court. On November 24, the agency had arrested Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister in connection with the gold smuggling case.

The Customs has arrested around 15 people, including Swapna Suresh, Sarith PS and Sandeep Nair, over the seizure of 30 kg gold from a diplomatic baggage of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram on July 5. The National Investigation Agency (NIA), the ED and the Customs are conducting separate probes into the racket that was busted with the seizure of gold.

Sivasankar was suspended after his links to Suresh, a former employee of the consulate, surfaced.

first published:December 08, 2020, 22:06 IST