'Swapna's disclosures under duress': Customs, ED mull legal action against police claim

Thiruvananthapuram: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Customs are contemplating to initiate legal action against the police for accusing the central agencies of forcing key accused Swapna Suresh to incriminate powerful people in the inter-linked gold and dollar smuggling cases.

The state police personnel, providing security to prime accused Swapna Suresh, had accused the central agencies that the woman was forced to make such statements.

The ED and Customs would chart their further course of action after discussing the matter with legal experts.

The central agencies believe that the police’s claim has no legal standing. The agencies are planning a countermove legally if the police uses the statements against them.

The ED earlier approached the DGP (Prisons) seeking a probe after an audio recording of Swapna, had gone public last year, in which she had claimed she was being threatened by the investigators and force to name key people in the government.

The Crime Branch had subsequently launched an investigation and round-the-clock security for Swapna was ordered.

Swapna, in her statements to the magistrate and ED, said she was handed over a phone by a policewoman after dialling someone. The accused also identified the circulated audio clip as the recording of the conversation she had had over the policewoman’s phone. Swapna also added that she was briefed on what to say over the phone.

The ED has received a legal opinion that since the court has Swapna’s statement about the phone conversation, the accusations of the police won’t carry any weight.

It was also reported that police officers, owing allegiance to the Left Democratic Front, were assigned to provide security to the accused.

'Did ED offer to make Swapna an approver?'

A policewoman named Rejimol had claimed that ED officers tasked with the investigation into the gold smuggling case had forced Swapna to name Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The ED offered to make Swapna as approver if she made a statement against the chief minister in the gold smuggling case, she had stated.

Rejimol, who was part of the team assigned to protect Swapna, told the Crime Branch that the ED tried to force Swapna to make the statement during an interrogation on August 13.

She testified to the special probe team that loaded questions were thrown at Swapna so that her answer would come out in such a way that could put Vijayan in the spot.

ED asked Swapna to state that the money found in her locker was handed over by M Sivashankar, former principal secretary to the chief minister. They also forced her to state that the chief minister had given the money to Sivasakar, Rejimol said in her statement to the crime branch.

In the statement, she also said DySP Radhakrishnan was the ED officer who had asked Swapna to speak against the chief minister.

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