A key accused detained in a central jail in Thiruvananthapuram under COFEPOSA in connection with the Kerala gold smuggling case has alleged torture by jail authorities, prompting the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate to take up the matter with the central government. Central Prison authorities at Poojappura in Thiruvananthapuram have, however, rejected the charges, saying no such incident took place.
Sources in the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate said they would appeal to the detaining authorities in the central government to shift those detained under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act (COFEPOSA) in the case to outside Kerala. The issue came to the fore this week after Sarith P S, a key accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case, alleged that he was tortured by jail authorities, reportedly forcing him to name leaders of the Congress and the BJP in the case..
The Prison authorities have filed a report in the Special NIA Court here after Sarith moved a plea, alleging torture by the jail authorities. Based on the directive of the The NIA court, Sarith was produced before the chamber of the Special NIA court judge today.
The court, which recorded his statement, is expected to give an order on Monday. The jail authorities have accused Sarith and another COFEPOSA detainee K T Rameez of improper behaviour in the jail.
The detainees levelled such baseless charges as they were prevented from engaging in improper acts, a jail official told PTI. Sarith moved the NIA court as he was also an accused in the gold smuggling case being probed by the NIA.
“We feel that this is a serious situation. This is not the first such incident to be reported", Customs Commissioner Sumit Kumar told PTI. Customs officials said that prime accused in the case, Swapna Suresh, had also alleged earlier that she was threatened by some people while she was in a judicial remand in a jail in Thiruvananthapuram.
They said the issue of threat of COFEPOSA detainees is a very serious issue and it would be taken up with the Central government, which can decide on shifting their jail from Kerala to any other neighbouring state. The Centre can also approach the Supreme Court,seeking to shift the trial of the case from the court in Kerala to another one in the neighbouring state, they said.
Various central investigating agencies are probing the gold smuggling case after nearly 15 kg of gold was seized at Thiruvanathapuram airport on July 5 last year from a diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE consulate there.