Smuggling accused Swapna Suresh out on bail after 16-month jail

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After spending 16 months in jail, the main accused in the Kerala gold smuggling case, Swapna Suresh, a former employee of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) consulate in the state capital, walked out on Saturday.

Suresh mother said her daughter was not keeping well and will meet the newsmen on another day. “She is not keeping well. She will meet you all on another day,” her mother Prabha S Suresh said. Many journalists were outside the jail and later her house expecting her to speak up. Earlier her mother said she was innocent and some influential people made her a pawn in their scheme.

The Kerala High Court granted bail to Suresh on November 2 after it held that the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) can’t be applied in the smuggling case filed by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Her release was delayed due to strict bail provisions.

Earlier, she was granted bail in cases filed by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the customs department. The High Court also quashed Cofeposa (Conservation of foreign exchange and prevention of smuggling activities act 1974) slapped on her on October 10. She is facing six cases, including one for allegedly forging her educational qualifications.

The gold smuggling case surfaced in July 2020 after the seizure of 30 kg gold worth 15 crore hidden in bathroom fittings in one of the consignments camouflaged as diplomatic baggage in the UAE consulate in the state capital. The case was later handed over to the NIA and it arrested Suresh and her accomplice Sandeep Nair from their hideout in Bengaluru. Five central agencies are probing the case now – NIA, ED, DRI, Customs and Income Tax.

When the case surfaced, Suresh was employed at the Space Park of the government-controlled Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited in a plum position. Before this, she was employed at the consulate as the secretary of the consulate in-charge and came close to many political leaders during this tenure. After smuggling cases came up, her B Com degree was also found fake and police registered a separate case against her for forgery.

The smuggling case invited enough embarrassment to the left front government after the CM’s principal secretary M Sivasankar, a senior IAS officer, was arrested by the ED after his alleged liaison with Suresh and dollar smuggling case surfaced. Later, he secured bail from the High Court. The Union and state governments locked horns on several occasions over the case and the latter even constituted a judicial commission against the ED, a first of its sort, alleging a bid to implicate many including CM Pinarayi Vijayan but later the HC quashed the commission.

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