Crime Branch faces legal hitch in questioning Swapna over voice clip

Swapna Suresh

Kochi: The Crime Branch is facing a legal hurdle put up by the Customs in recording the statements of Swapna Suresh, a key member of the diplomatic gold smuggling racket, over a recent ‘leaked’ voice clip.

Swapna is currently in the custody of the Customs over a currency smuggling case which is linked to the diplomatic gold smuggling case.

The Customs has informed the jail authorities that the permission of the court has to be sought before recording her statements as Swapna is a detainee under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act or COFEPOSA.

The Crime Branch wants to directly record the statements of Swapna at the jail or while in Customs' custody. However, this move to conduct a probe without first registering a case over the voice clip leak has met a barrier with the Customs' stance. To approach the court, a case will have to be registered over the voice clip.

A voice recording, believed to be Swapna's, had emerged recently and the Crime Branch is investigating its source and veracity. Recording the conversation of an accused in judicial custody and circulating it is an offence, as per the prison norms.

The Enforcement Directorate had earlier shot off a missive to the jail DGP, seeking a probe over the incident.

Sivasankar denies link to gold smuggling

M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Kerala Chief Minister, has stuck to his stance that he was not aware of the gold smuggling through the diplomatic channel. Sivasankar reiterated his statements during the interrogation by the Customs over the 30kg gold seized from the cargo complex in Thiruvananthapuram in July.

Voice clip: Crime Branch faces legal hurdle in recording Swapna’s statements
M Sivasankar at the Principal Sessions Court in Kochi. Photo: Manorama

The senior official was questioned based on Swapna's statements that Sivasankar was in the know of the gold smuggling.

He has been allowed rest owing to back pain.

Meanwhile, the Customs continued the questioning of Swapna and PS Sarith in the case pertaining to the alleged smuggling of 1.9 lakh dollars. The three were also questioned together. The questions were mainly about the people and firms they had visited during the foreign trips undertaken by Sivasankar along with Swapna.

All three will be presented in court on November 30 after the five-day custody period ends.

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