Kerala

CPO’s statement gives ammo to govt.

A woman Civil Police Officer (CPO) has reportedly told the Crime Branch (CB) that she had witnessed Enforcement Directorate (ED) officials coercing UAE gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh to implicate Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the crime.

The officer told the CB she was part of Swapna’s police escort detail.

The alleged arm-twisting had occurred in Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram.

The statement of the CPO emerged in the public domain on Monday. It seemed congruent with the CPI(M)’s narrative that the ED, at the Centre’s behest, wanted to foist a case on Mr. Vijayan to destabilise the government and rob it of its mandate.

The witness statement also became a handy propaganda tool in the hands of the CPI(M) to counter the Customs’ politically stormy deposition in the High Court that Swapna had “stated with clarity about the smuggling of foreign currency at the instance of Hon'ble Chief Minister (Pinarayi Vijayan) and Hon'ble Speaker (P. Sreeramakrishnan)”.

The Congress and the BJP had used the statement to berate the government. The issue had snowballed into a major political controversy, with the Left Democratic Front marching in protest to Customs offices across the State.

The CB had interviewed the policewoman as part of its probe into a “leaked” audio recording of an “accusatory” mobile phone conversation purportedly between Swapna and an unidentified person in November last.

She was under preventive detention as a COFEPOSA prisoner at the Attakulangara Sub-jail for Women. She had weekly interviews with her immediate family and lawyers at the jail.

The widely circulated audio seemed to suggest that the ED had attempted to coerce Swapna into giving a statement implicating Mr. Vijayan in her questionable financial transactions with foreign nationals.

Swapna’s co-accused and former Principal Secretary to Mr. Vijayan, M. Sivasankar, had also made a similar charge against the ED in a court filing last year.

The recording also hinted that the ED had invited Swapna to turn approver in the case.

However, the rider to the deal was that she should depose against the Chief Minister and other Ministers. “I refused to oblige the ED,” the voice in the questionable recording had stated. The ED has denied any wrongdoing.

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 5:06:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/cpos-statement-gives-ammo-to-govt/article34023450.ece

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