In her application filed before the High Court, Swapna has claimed that she contacted the Customs officer at the airport on the directions of a top UAE diplomat.
In yet another twist in the sensational case of gold seizure from diplomatic baggage at the Thiruvananthapuram airport that blew the lid off a high-profile smuggling racket, key suspect Swapna Suresh has claimed innocence before the Kerala High Court and said that she is being framed in the case. In her application filed before the High Court, Swapna has claimed that she contacted the Customs officer at the airport on the directions of a top UAE diplomat, IndianExpress.com reported.
The petition, perused by IE.com, states that Rashid Khamis Al Shameli, who holds the acting charge of the UAE Consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, had asked Swapna to contact the Customs department regarding a delay in his consignment. Swapna states in her petition that she had resigned from the consulate in September 2019 and joined PricewaterhouseCoopers as a contractual staff. However, she continued to work closely with the consulate under a ‘work on request basis’.
Swapna’s petition claims that on June 30, she was directed by Al Shameli to check with Customs regarding the delay of his consignment to Thiruvananthapuram from UAE. On July 5, Swapna claimed, she was asked to prepare a letter to the Assistant Commissioner of Customs seeking the “re-export” of the cargo.
The cargo in question here carried 30 kg gold worth Rs 15 crore addressed to the Consulate-General office in Thiruvananthapuram. The gold was found concealed under some food items by the Customs department. Swapna has claimed in her application before the court that she only acted as per the directions of the Consulate-General as part of her official work and that the media is spreading false stories regarding her involvement in the case.
While Swapna continues to be on the run in the case, one man identified as Sarith Kumar, a former PRO with the UAE Consulate, was arrested by Customs officials in connection with the case. It was Sarith who named Suresh as an accomplice during interrogation.
The issue has snowballed into a major political controversy in Kerala after links surfaced between Swapna and the Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. M Sivashankar, the officer in question has since been removed. The Opposition, however, is unrelenting and has sought the resignation of the Chief Minister.