KOCHI: The NIA Court on Wednesday asked for the third time whether there is enough evidence that the gold smuggled through the diplomatic channel was for financing terrorism. The question was posed to NIA while considering the bail plea of eight accused persons.
While hearing NIA, Judge P Krishnakumar said this gold smuggling case is unique due to three reasons — a large quantity was smuggled through the diplomatic channel, its international ramifications and that gold was brought for terror financing. “I have no doubt that the case is of a serious nature. However, is there enough evidence that the gold was brought in for financing terrorist activities? I did not find such an aspect while going through the Case Diary,” he said.
The NIA prosecutor, Arjun Ambalapatta, said in October 2019, the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB) had sent a report to the national agency that a consignment of gold smuggled through Kozhikode airport was suspected to be used for terrorism funding. He said based on the report, NIA got involved in the smuggling case. He submitted that CEIB asked for a probe against six categories of persons involved in the gold smuggling, including financiers.
He said NIA and the UAE are in discussion to conduct a probe in Kerala and the Gulf country to crack down on people who engage in smuggling. He also said the NIA team will be going to Dubai again as part of the probe with proper evidence. He also referred to the D-company of Dawood Ibrahim claiming that gold smuggling from the UAE was the key funding source for the gang prior to the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts.
“Most of the accused (in the present case) who invested money for the smuggled gold were rich persons with businesses in Kerala and the UAE. This smuggling is not happening for financial benefit but for some other purpose which is under probe,” he said. However, the court asked whether these are not NIA’s mere apprehension. The court said a majority of the persons who have filed bail applications are financiers and asked how they could involve in terror financing.
Assistant Solicitor General P Vijayakumar, representing NIA, said the accused persons from different places came together to smuggle gold. From this, it is clear they all had a common intention to smuggle gold in large quantities. He said the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act provides for 180 days’ time to complete the investigation as cases of serious nature are probed under the provision. He said the ongoing probe will be affected adversely if the accused are granted bail.
The court decided to go through the confession statement of accused Sandeep Nair before giving an order in the bail petitions and posted the case for next Monday. The court will consider the anticipatory bail petitions of three accused then. It will consider the bail plea filed by prime accused Swapna Suresh the next day.
Chennithala calls CM a liar, asks him to quit
T’Puram: With the ED submitting its preliminary chargesheet quoting Swapna’s statement that she had met CM Pinarayi Vijayan six times with M Sivasankar, the Opposition demanded Pinarayi’s resignation. Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala on Wednesday said, “With Swapna’s statement, it has become clear that the CM says only lies and acts like a liar. A liar like him has no right to continue in office.”