Customs to question Speaker again, this time in Kochi

Thiruvananthapuram: The Customs (Preventive wing) will summon Speaker P Sreeramakrishnan again for questioning after he recovers from COVID-19.

The decision was taken after investigators found contradictions in the statements of Sarith P S and Swapna Suresh, the accused in the diplomatic channel gold smuggling case, and the Speaker.

Sreeramakrishnan was questioned once at his official residence here on April 9. The plan now is to summon him to the Customs headquarters in Kochi, once the Speaker is released from hospital. He is now in the Medical College Hospital here.

Contradicting Sarith and Swapna’s statements, Sreeramakrishnan had told the Customs that he had handed over an empty bag and there was no money in it. The accused persons, however, had stated that the bag contained wads of currency notes. The presence of notes was confirmed while the bag scanned and weighed at the UAE consulate here, they reportedly said.

The Speaker stood firm on his statement that he had gifted only the bag to them.

Investigators who questioned Sreeramakrishnan felt he had received legal advice and was answering them accordingly. Customs officials were hoping for more clarity if he was quizzed at their headquarters.

The Speaker also denied investment in a foreign college. Customs would examine the statements of his friends who had invested in the college.

It has been alleged that Sreeramakrishnan had invested in Muscat, Oman-based Middle East College and was planning its expansion.

Sreeramakrishnan also deposed that Swapna was deliberately trying to trap him, and she had always attempted to videograph and photograph herself with him.

Court to hear Sandeep’s bail plea on Monday

The Principal Sessions Court here will take up for consideration the bail application of Sandeep Nair in the Enforcement Directorate (ED)-registered gold smuggling case on Monday.

Though Nair was granted bail in a case registered by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), he was not freed since the man was detained under the COFEPOSA (Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities) Act.

NIA arrested Nair along with co-accused Swapna Nair from Bengaluru on July 12, 2020. The agency later made him an approver.

Meanwhile, the Crime Branch has been probing the ED for allegedly forcing Nair and Swapna to falsely implicate chief minister in the smuggling case.

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