Sivasankar appears before NIA for third time, let off after being quizzed for 9 hours

M Sivasankar

Kochi: The National Investigation agency (NIA) questioned former Principal Secretary to Kerala Chief Minister M Sivasankar for the third time on Thursday in the sensational gold smuggling case.

Sivasankar, who appeared before the NIA team here at 11am, was reportedly quizzed in the presence of Swapna Suresh, a key accused arrested by the NIA in the case. He was let off at around 8.15pm, sources said.

The agency is interrogating the senior IAS officer on the basis of the digital forensic evidence gathered. It had examined 2TB of data collected from the accused in the case. Swapna was on Tuesday sent to NIA custody till Friday.

Sivasankar was questioned twice earlier in July - at Thiruvananthapuram and at the NIA Kochi office. The Customs department had also questioned him earlier.

The NIA had also question Higher Education Minister KT Jaleel and some officials at the state-run C-APT in the past few days.

Sivasankar was suspended from the service after allegations surfaced that he had links with Swapna, the key accused in the case related to the attempt to smuggle gold through diplomatic baggage using the name of an official in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consulate in Thiruvananthapuram.

The Customs seized the gold, weighing over 30 kg and valued at around Rs 15 crore on July 5.

The NIA, which has been entrusted with the probe into the case, has booked several people including - Swapna, Sarith P S, Sandeep Nair and Faizal Fareed - under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

Swapna and Sarith are former employees of the UAE Consulate and allegedly used their past connections to smuggle gold using the diplomatic channel.

The NIA, which earlier once interrogated Swapna, had informed the court that further custodial interrogation of the accused would be required on the basis of the digital evidence to be obtained.

The agency had said the incriminating materials found in the digital devices are required to be confronted with the accused by taking them into further NIA custody.

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