Swapna and Sivasankar's Gulf trip under ED scanner after reference in voice clip

Swapna and Sivasankar's Oman trip under ED scanner as voice clip mentions it
Swapna Suresh, former principal secretary M Sivasankar. File photos

Thiruvananthapuram: The controversial remarks in the voice clip said to be that of Swapna Suresh, one of the main accussed in the Trivandrum airport gold smuggling case, is likely to land Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's former principal secretary M Sivasankar in trouble.

The voice clip which came out in the public domain recently contained a reference regarding pressure being put on Swapna to give a statement against the chief minister.

Among a few other points, the female voice in the audio message also says the probe officials were forcing her to confess that she had gone to the UAE in October 2019 with Sivasankar to make financial negotiations on behalf of the chief minister. 

The Enforcement Directorate has sought legal opinion to conduct a probe into these allegations. The central agency has sought legal opinion since Swapna's UAE visit along with Sivasankar is a subject which is yet to come within the purview of the probe being conducted into the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case. The ED will submit a report to the Union Finance Ministry stating that there was an attempt to sabotage the investigation.

It will also record Swapna's statement again with the approval of the court. The ED action comes in the wake of a preliminary assessment that the voice heard in the clip is that of Swapna.

Earlier when Sivasankar was questioned, he had disclosed the circumstances under which he met Swapna abroad. Both had travelled together to the UAE in April 2017. In April 2018, Swapna went to Oman and met Sivasankar in the midst of his trip to that country. They were together on the return journey from Oman.

Swapna had also accompanied Sivasankar during the visit of an official delegation to UAE headed by the chief minister seeking assistance for flood relief. However, both had told the probe team the CM was not aware that Swapna was accompanying Sivasankar on that trip.

Audio analysis

With the controversy related to the voice clip gaining momentum, authorities say facilities are available in Thiruvananthapuram to check the authenticity of the audio.

With audio analysis it is possible to find out the person whose voice has been recorded in the clip. The facility for the same is available at the audio video laboratory of the physics division of Forensic Science Laboratory at Thiruvananthapuram.

Whenever there is a dispute over audio messages, the voice clips are examined here under a court directive. The voice of the accused is recorded at the lab and the suspect made to repeat the controversial bit over and over again. The result of the analysis is available within a week.

The video of the controversial speech of minister M M Mani made in Manacaud, Thodupuzha was subjected to forensic examination. It was proved that the tape was not tampered with.

Audio analysis is done by forensic experts to get the reliable phonetic profile of a speaker and to determine the identity of the said person.

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