The National Investigation Agency (NIA) court in Kochi on Friday remanded gold smuggling-accused Swapna Suresh in judicial custody again, after the NIA's custody period ended. However, the agency had told the court that it will again need to interrogate her further in the case. She will remain in judicial custody until October 8.
Swapna was in the NIA’s custody since the past four days. The agency had on Thursday quizzed suspended IAS officer M Sivasankar in Swapna’s presence. According to reports, the NIA has informed the court that she needs to be quizzed further as the results of forensic analysis of digital evidence, collected from the accused persons, have come out.
Meanwhile, Swapna has requested the special court that she would like to be shifted from the Thrissur prison. The court has directed officials to move her to a prison in Ernakulam district.
Swapna, a former employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram and contract staff with the state’s IT Department, was arrested in July. She was accused of smuggling 30 kg of gold from the UAE in diplomatic baggage. The case created a massive political storm in the state as it was revealed that M Sivasankar IAS, who was Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi, allegedly had close connections with Swapna.
A parallel investigation into the case is being held by the Customs Department and Enforcement Directorate. Swapna is the second accused in the smuggling cases registered by both the NIA and Customs. Sarith PS, another former employee of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, is the first accused in the case.
The case has political ramifications, as more controversies involving a cabinet minister also surfaced. It was discovered that Kerala Minister for Higher Education KT Jaleel had earlier contacted Swapna. After he revealed in defence that Swapna was contacted on the UAE Consulate official’s direction, allegations of protocol violation were aired at him. He was questioned by the NIA thrice.
(With inputs from IANS)
Watch visuals of the smuggled gold: