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Kerala gold case: 14-day remand for suspects pending Covid-19 tests

Vinson Kurian V. Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on July 12, 2020 Published on July 12, 2020

Bengaluru: Kerala gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair (both in middle) after they were arrested by the National Investigation Agency in Bengaluru, Karnataka   -  PTI

Special Judge P Krishnakumar of the NIA (National Investigation Agency) court in Kochi has remanded Swapna Suresh and Sandeep Nair, second and fourth accused in the Kerala airport gold smuggling case, to 14-day custody Monday evening pending results of their Covid-19 diagnostic tests.

The Special Judge chose to make himself available on a holiday in view of the seriousness of the case. The police tightened security after protests by cadres of the BJP and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF), demanding action against alleged perpetrators of the case, and enforced a mild lathi charge.

The NIA court sent the accused to separate Covid Care Centres outside of Ernakulam. Swabs had been taken earlier in the morning on their way from Bengaluru where they were detained Sunday morning. Results are expected on Monday morning, depending on which further proceedings would be initiated in the case.

They would be produced back to court on Monday only if they test negative. The NIA is expected to file a detailed petition seeking their custody. Their retirement to the respective Covid Care Centres marked the end of a day of dramatic developments, including protests along the way from the State border.

Swapna Suresh had fled to Bengaluru along with her family. Their hideout was located after her daughter switched on the mobile phone Saturday evening. The NIA sleuths bided their time till Sunday morning to corner the family, along with Sandeep Nair.

Drama along the way

The Kerala police had a tough time to ensure security to the motorcade from Bengaluru till it reached the hospital in Aluva for a routine check-up of the two detainees as well as for extracting their swabs. The trip had also thrown up its share of drama with the vehicle carrying Swapna Suresh suffering a flat tyre.

Meanwhile, in Thiruvananthapuram, sleuths of the Customs, which is running a parallel enquiry, have confiscated the visitors register from a flat of M Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. He is the first high-profile casualty in the case with suspected proximity to Swapna Suresh.

The Customs is yet to take a call on whether they should record Sivasankar’s statement in the case. The Kerala police have meanwhile posted a picket outside his house here following fears that protesters from the Opposition parties could take out a march to his residence.

 

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Published on July 12, 2020
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