Thiruvananthapuram: In what could add to the woes of Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan's former principal secretary M Sivasankar, his close associate Swapna Suresh has deposed before the Customs that he had assisted and encouraged gold smuggling through diplomatic baggage.
As per Section 108 of the Customs Act, 1962, the statements given before the investigation officer has the same evidential value of statements recorded before the magistrate under the Criminal Procedure Code 164.
Swapna had given the same statement when she was questioned earlier in the jail after Sivasankar's arrest by Enforcement Directorate in connection with the money-laundering case.
The Customs has not divulged whether Swapna had named more people for complicity. More arrests are likely in the case after Sivasankar's questioning.
A Customs team led by Superintendent Vivek Vasudevan Nair had recorded Sivasankar's arrest on Tuesday at the Kakkanad District Jail where he is in judicial remand in connection with Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) case.
The plea for his 10-day custody will come up before the Economic Offences Court, Ernakulam, on Wednesday.
No clue about the voice in voice clip
The central intelligence agency is gearing up for scientific analysis to get more clarity on the human voice that that was heard in a publicised voice clip widely believed to be that of Swapna. Repetitive 'hmmm' sound could be heard responding to the female voice that was clearly talking about the conduct of investigating officers who had questioned her.
When the voice clip came in the public domain for the first time it was suspected that the sound was of a male. However, it is learnt that Swapna's statement given before jail DIG contains indications to the contrary.
The Crime Branch team which is investigating the case will record Swapna's statement again.
According to the legal opinion received by the police, if Swapna sticks to her statement then the person whose voice is heard in the voice clip will be made a witness and a case would also be registered against the official of the central agency who has been accused of trying to intimidate her.
It is suspected that the voice message was recorded in a vehicle after her arrest by the NIA in the gold smuggling case. The voice message was likely recorded as she was taken to court for evidence collection and medical examination and women cops had escorted her then. Once it is confirmed that the voice in the clip is that of Swapna then the probe will extend to the women police personnel who accompanied her at that time.
Besides the Crime Branch, the central agencies will also seek her custody for recording statements.