A special National Investigation Agency court in Kochi on Monday dismissed the bail plea of Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case, PTI reported. The court said it rejected Suresh’s bail plea based on the evidence produced by the agency on the alleged role of the woman in smuggling gold worth over Rs 100 crore through the diplomatic channel since November last year.
Strongly opposing Suresh’s bail plea, the NIA told the court that an intensive investigation has to be conducted in the case. The agency said there was prima facie evidence that Suresh had intentionally committed the crime, which falls directly under Section 15 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Earlier this month, the NIA had told the court it suspected that the proceeds from the smuggling might be used for terror funding, the Hindustan Times reported. It said that on interrogation of KT Ramees, one of the accused in the case, it found that he had been in touch with some fundamentalist organisations, and also went on trips to Africa and other countries.
In her bail plea, Suresh had alleged that she was implicated in the case “on wild imagination without any basis” as a result of a political rivalry between the state and central governments, triggered by the “colourful and fictitious stories” telecast by the media.
On July 24, the court had remanded Suresh, Sarith PS and Sandeep Nair – the three main accused in the case, to judicial custody. Suresh had claimed that she had faced mental torture in prison, and her statement to customs officials about her role in the case was due to this.
On July 5, gold weighing 30 kg concealed in imported plumbing material was seized by the Customs officials upon inspection of an air cargo consignment addressed to the Consular General of the United Arab Emirates in Thiruvananthapuram district. Officials valued the gold at Rs 15 crore.
The customs department arrested Sarith on the same day for allegedly facilitating the smuggling of the gold in diplomatic baggage from Thiruvananthapuram to Dubai.
Sarith and Suresh worked at the consulate-general’s office until six months ago. Later, the state government had appointed Suresh as marketing liaison officer of the Space Park project under the IT Department’s Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited. Her contract was terminated after the allegations surfaced.
Sivasankar was also removed as the principal secretary of Vijayan after Opposition leaders questioned his alleged association with the three accused.
On July 22, the Enforcement Directorate filed a money laundering complaint in the case. The Enforcement Case Information Report, equivalent to a first information report, will enable the directorate to attach the properties of the accused.
The NIA has asked officials handling the CCTV at the State Secretariat to hand over all the footage recorded from July 1 to July 14.