'Swapna's disclosures under duress': Crime Branch files case against ED

'Swapna's disclosures under duress': Crime Branch files case against ED
Swapna Suresh and Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala government is on a collision course with the central government agencies following multiple probes being carried out by the latter into a slew of major cases that has embarrassed the Pinarayi Vijayan administration in the last one year.

In a rare move, the Crime Branch have filed a case against Enforcement Directorate (ED) over an allegation that Swapna Suresh, a key accused in the gold smuggling case, was coerced to give statements against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

According to the FIR, the ED officials who had questioned Swapna on August 12 and 13 last year allegedly forced her to give 'false' statements against the chief minister in order to make fake evidence.

The Crime Branch case has been registered under section 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 167 (public servant framing an incorrect document with intent to cause injury), 192 (fabricating false evidence), 195-A (threatening any person to give false evidence) among others of the Indian Penal Code.

Earlier, the Director General of Prosecutions had given a go-ahead to state government after it sought legal advice to initiate the case against the central agency. The legal advice was sought after considering the initial investigation report of the Crime Branch.

However, ED sources told PTI that they have no information about registration of the case and would anyhow face it legally.

The Crime Branch has been investigating an audio clip, alleged to be of Swapna Suresh accusing the ED of forcing her to give testimony against the chief minister. Swapna had confirmed that it was her voice in the clip. Later, a police officer, who provided security to her when ED officers had interrogated her, had claimed that Swapna was "forced to incriminate powerful people in the inter-linked gold and dollar smuggling cases".

The ED had made efforts to link the CM to the case, as per the statements of this police officer, a woman.

The woman senior civil police officer deposed that attempts were made to compel Swapna to say that the money found in the locker was given to her by (former principal secretary to the CM) Sivasankar and that the chief minister had given that money to Sivasankar.

As per the cop's statements, she heard ED DySP Radhakrishnan saying that Swapna can be made an approver in the case if she gave such a statement.

Later, statements of another woman police officer had also emerged. According to her statements, most of the questions to Swapna were phrased in such a way that she named the CM.

The case was registered two days ago on the basis of a report filed by the Crime Branch team.

Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the UAE consulate here, is the prime accused in the case relating to the smuggling of gold worth 30 kg of gold worth Rs 14.82 crore in a diplomatic baggage and now under judicial custody since her arrest. Besides the ED, the Customs and the National Investigation Agency are also probing the smuggling of gold through the diplomatic channel.

.ED, Customs mull action against Kerala Police

On the other hand, the ED suspects that the Crime Branch move is a deliberate ploy to defame the agency and thereby secure top political authorities in an election season.

The ED has also received legal opinion to proceed against Kerala Police personnel who are suspected to have made attempts to aid the key accused in the dollar smuggling case which was facilitated by people associated with the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram. The Intelligence Bureau has been requested to ascertain the antecedents of these police personnel and submit a report.

Vested interests are likely behind the claims and charges of the cops, the ED authorities feel.

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