THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a new twist to the gold smuggling case, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has made six more arrests including a Popular Front of India (PFI) member who was charge-sheeted in the sensational palm-chopping case.
Of the six arrested, four were arrested by the Customs and two are new names -- Muhammad Ali Ebrahim and Muhammad Ali, both residents of Muvattupuzha. They were picked up by the NIA officers from Tiruchirappalli on Saturday.
With this, NIA has so far made 10 arrests in the gold smuggling case.
Muhammed Ali was charge-sheeted by Kerala Police in the chopping off of the palm of a college professor in 2011. He was later acquitted by the NIA court. Ali is still a PFI member, sources said. His arrest brings the PFI angle into the case.
The arrest of Ali, who was an accused in a sensational case involving radical outfits, could provide a leeway to the probe agencies who suspect that the proceedings from gold smuggling were used for terror-funding, sources said.
The NIA said Muhammad Ali Ebrahim and Muhammad Ali had assisted A M Jalal, another accused who was earlier arrested by the Customs, in collecting the smuggled gold from key conspirator Ramees K T. The two also assisted Jalal in distributing the booty among other conspirators, a statement by NIA said.
Meanwhile, the NIA has recorded the arrest of Jalal, Said Alavi E, Mohammed Shafi and Abdu P T, who were in judicial custody after the Customs arrested them in gold smuggling case.
The NIA sleuths also raided six places, including the residences of Ramees and Rabins Hameed, another key suspect, and claimed to have recovered electronic gadgets and other documents. "During searches, two hard disks, one tablet computer, eight mobile phones, six SIM cards, one digital video recorder and five DVDs were seized, besides various documents including bank passbooks, credit/debit cards, travel documents and identity documents of the accused," the statement said. So far 10 people have been arrested by the NIA, which is probing a gold-smuggling case for the first time.
The agency started the probe pertaining to smuggling of 30 kg gold via diplomatic baggage of UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram on July 10.