Kochi: The two key accused in the gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, were remanded in custody by a National Investigation Agency (NIA) special court in Kochi on Sunday.
The NIA moved an application in the court, seeking the duo's custody for interrogation.
The Court will on Monday consider the application seeking custody of the accused, who were brought to the state from Bengaluru this morning.
They were taken to the Aluva hospital in Ernakulam for the mandatory COVID-19 test before being produced in the NIA court in Kochi.
They were lodged in COVID care centres. While Swapna was taken to Ambilikkala hostel in Thrissur, Sandeep was taken to Karukutty in Aluva. Late in the night, Manorama News reported that the duo tested negative for coronavirus.
They were brought to the state on Sunday, a day after being taken into custody by the NIA in Bengaluru. Swapna and Sandeep were on the run for nearly a week.
Congress and BJP attacked the LDF government, seeking to know how the prime accused could flee the state capital when a triple lockdown was in place to check the coronavirus spread.
Swapna, a former employee of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, and Sandeep are among the four people booked by the central agency in connection with the case of smuggling of the gold which arrived in a diplomatic baggage at the airport and seized by the Customs on July 5.
The vehicles carrying the accused entered the Kerala border by 11am on Sunday. The duo and the probe team had crossed the Walayar checkpost in two cars. But Swapna was shifted to the car carrying Sandeep after the other car ended up with a flat tyre near Vadakkanchery in Thrissur district.
They were then taken to the District Hospital in Aluva for medical checkup and COVID-19 test at 1pm.
They arrived at the NIA office in Kadavanthra, Kochi, at 2:30pm. Police had to resort to mild lathi charge to disperse the protestors gathered outside the NIA office.
At 4:30pm, they were brought to a NIA special court to be presented before the magistrate. Tight security arrangements were made at the court premises.
Swapna and Sandeep were arrested around 7pm on Saturday from a service apartment in Koramangala in Bengaluru by an NIA team from Hyderabad. Their passports and Rs 2 lakh were also seized from them. They were later questioned at the NIA’s office in Domlur in Bengaluru.
Swapna went into hiding on July 5 after a diplomatic baggage addressed to the UAE Consulate and containing 30 kg of gold worth Rs 14.8 crore was seized by Customs officials at the Trivandrum International Airport.
P S Sarith, a former PRO at the UAE Consulate, who was dealing with the baggage on behalf of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, was arrested earlier. He had confessed to Swapna’s involvement in the case.
The investigators got to know about Swapna’s location by Saturday afternoon after her daughter switched on the phone. The NIA passed on the information to its Hyderabad unit.
Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE consulate, worked as a consultant in the Space Park project under the Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL). She was sacked after her name surfaced in connection with the smuggling case.
Pinarayi said an inquiry will be held into the complaint on the alleged fake degree certificate submitted by Swapna for securing appointment in a government project under the state IT department.
The state government has also removed senior IAS officer M Sivasankar, who was the secretary to the Chief Minister and the IT secretary, following allegations that he had close links with Swapna.
The Congress and its allies and the BJP are staging protests targeting the Left Democratic Front government and demanding the chief minister's resignation over it.