Gold smuggling: Kerala court denies ED permission to question accused privately

A court in Kerala has said jail authorities must be present when Enforcement Directorate officials interrogate the accused, and that the accused should not be tortured.
Gold smuggling: Kerala court denies ED permission to question accused privately
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A court in Kerala on Monday said that officials of the Enforcement Directorate (ED), which is probing the gold smuggling case, can question accused Swapna Suresh and Sarith, but only in the presence of jail authorities in Thiruvananthapuram. The ED had sought permission of the court to question Swapna and Sarith without the presence of jail authorities. However, a special court in Ernakulam denied the plea.

Principal sessions judge Kausar Edappagath said that jail authorities can be present in the room at a distance while questioning, in a manner that they cannot hear the interrogation, reports The Hindu.

The Enforcement Directorate officials have been allowed to interrogate the accused for three days, until December 16, from 10 am to 4 pm. Though the accused were earlier questioned in detail by the investigation agency, the present questioning is in the wake of evidence received from M Sivasankar, the suspended IAS officer, who is also an accused in the money laundering case attached to Kerala's sensational gold smuggling case.

The court also ordered that the accused in the gold smuggling case shouldn't be tortured mentally or physically during the questioning.

Following the court order, the ED officials had questioned Swapna at Attakulangara women prison in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday. However, the officials have not yet revealed why she was being questioned again.

Earlier, online news portal The Cue had released an audio clip of Swapna, in which she alleged that ED officials had pressurized her to name Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the gold smuggling case. The ED had denied the allegations in the court. Swapna had also filed an affidavit in court claiming that she was threatened in jail, and was asked not to reveal the names of prominent people in the case. She said that four persons visited her in the jail and threatened to “destroy her and her family” if she reveals anything.

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