Two police officers among accused

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has filed a charge sheet in a case in which a woman was trafficked to the UAE through the Nedumbassery airport under a forged passport.

Seven persons, including two police officers, have been accused in the charge sheet, filed before the Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate Court.

The case relates to the incident in which a 19-year-old from Kazhakuttam was taken to Muscat through the Nedumbassery airport for sex work under a passport that belonged to another woman from Kattappana. The case, which was initially investigated by the Crime Branch, was handed over to the CBI along with three other cases of trafficking through the Nedumbassery airport.

The seven accused in the case are Santha, 46, of Punaloor, Kollam; Lissy Sojan, 43, of Karumathara, Thrissur; P.R. Shaji, 42, of Vallivattom, Thrissur; Raju Mathew, 44, of Lakkatoor, Kottayam; Sethulal of Kodungalloor, Thrissur; Prasanth Kumar, of Eriyadukara, Thrissur; and Varghese Raphael of Maradu. Varghese is currently absconding and believed to be in the Gulf. All the other accused were arrested and subsequently released on bail.

Two other accused, including the woman who was trafficked abroad, have not been charge-sheeted in the case.

The CBI report said Santha worked as an agent for Lissy Sojan, who operated brothels in the Gulf countries. She recruited the 19-year-old woman on behalf of Lissy after promising her a cleaning job in Dubai. Santha allegedly made a commission of Rs.15,000 for recruiting the Kazhakuttam native. Lissy wrongfully took possession of the passport of a woman from Kattappana and arranged for the victim’s photograph to be pasted onto the passport. Sethulal has also been accused of arranging the passport forgery.

Varghese Raphael, who worked for Lissy in the Gulf, sent the forged passport to civil police officer (CPO) Prasanth Kumar through courier. He handed over the documents to Shaji, who took them to Santha.

Santha accompanied the victim to the Nedumbassery airport on June 6, 2012. The woman hesitated when she saw her photograph on the passport of another person. Santha assured her that the Immigration officer on duty would take care of everything, and asked her to practice the signature of the original passport holder. The CBI report said sub-inspector Raju Mathew was on duty at the Immigration wing at the time. CPO Prasanth Kumar, who knew Raju Mathew from his earlier posting at the airport, allegedly asked him to clear the fake passport. The CBI said Raju Mathew took the victim and pointed out the Immigration counter where he would be on duty. He allegedly asked her to hand over her forms to him at the counter.

The report said the sub-inspector did not examine the forged passport under ultraviolet lamp and Passport Related Information Data Exchange (PRIDE) system, thus allowing the forged passport to go undetected.

Once the woman got to the UAE and realised she had been cheated, she contacted her family, who asked Lissy to release her. Lissy allegedly demanded Rs.2 lakh to let her go, but finally settled for Rs.25,000. Once the sum was paid, Lissy allowed the woman to come back to India through the Mumbai airport, where her forged passport was caught and she was arrested.