Main accused in Kerala gold smuggling case says her life under threat

In a new development in the Kerala gold smuggling case on Tueusday, main accused Swapna Suresh told a court in Kochi that her life is in danger and sought special protection for herself and her family members.

She said she is under tremendous pressure not to take big names and some people met her in the jail a couple of times to pressurise her in this regard.

Her latest statement came in the wake of reports in a section of the media that she reportedly gave damning revelations against some ministers and top officials. For the last two days, she has been recording her statement under Section 164 of the CrPC. After she complained of a threat to her life, the court directed her to give her complaint in writing which she submitted through her lawyer.

In the letter submitted in the additional chief judicial magistrate’s court (economic offences) in Kochi she said while she was in the women’s jail in Thiruvananthapuram some persons who identified themselves as prison and police officials came to her and warned not to take names of persons in high authority and advised her not to co-operate with central agencies investigating the smuggling racket.

“They had threatened me that they are capable of causing harm to my family members outside and even capable of doing away with my life in prison. The said threatening repeatedly happened on Nov 25. There is a serious threat to my life while in judicial custody,” she said in a two-page letter claiming she can identify those who threatened her inside the jail. HT has a copy of her complaint.

Later the court directed the DGP (jails) and prison superintendent to ensure proper security for her. Central agencies probing the case also expressed serious concern over her latest revelations. They said if the situation continued like this, they may move a higher court to shift the case to a neighbouring state.

It is also suspected now that Suresh’s voicemail leaked to the media two weeks back in which she complained that she was forced to take big names by central agencies was done under pressure. After the voicemail kicked up a big controversy Director General of Police Rishiraj Singh had ordered a probe but it failed to make any progress.

After her latest complaint kicked up another row, the ruling CPI (M) alleged a big conspiracy saying it was leaked out deliberately during the local body election to portray the government in a bad light and influence the poll outcome.

“BJP state president K Surendran gets even details of the confidential statement given before the court and case details from central agencies. People will realise their ulterior designs to weaken an elected government,” said CPI (M) secretary A Vijayaraghavan.

Earlier in the morning, Surendran alleged that assembly Speaker P Sivaramakrishnan made several foreign trips with Swapna Suresh and he was aware of her activities and helped her on several occasions.

Sivaramakrishnan was not available for comments but the CPI (M) said, “Some people were accepting the allegation of an accused as gospel truth.”

Meanwhile, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s additional private secretary C M Raveendran, who was summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for the third time in connection with the gold smuggling case, got himself admitted to the hospital complaining post-Covid complications.

When he was summoned first in October he told the ED that he was infected with Covid-19 and second time he evaded it complaining of post-covid ailments. The ED had summoned him again on December 10. The central agency said he was summoned on the basis of the statements of Swapna Suresh and M Sivasankar, a senior bureaucrat who is under judicial custody now.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) is now heading a probe by five central agencies into the gold smuggling racket. A total of 36 people have been arrested so far during the investigation.

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