Kerala court grants bail to two key accused in gold smuggling case

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Kochi, Apr 29 (PTI) Granting bail to two key accused in the gold smuggling case, a court here has observed that the Enforcement Directorate has no other evidence other than their custodial statements to prove their role in the sensational case.

It may be true that while the petitioners were in custody, they have given a statement under Section 50(3) of PMLA before the Authorities.It is only as per the statement, the Enforcement Directorate would say that this was the 21st incident and prior to this the accused have smuggled 20 times and brought gold to India.' 'Apart from this, at present, there are no documents to prove the involvement of the accused in this regard', the Special Court for PMLA Cases observed while granting bail to the accused, Sandeep Nair and P S Sarith, on Wednesday.

In his order, First Additional District Judge D Sureshkuma said at this stage, there is no evidence to find that it is the first and third accused who are the kingpins in this crime.

'Records reveal that all accused have an equal role in the allegations made against them', the court said while granting bail to the accused with stringent conditions.

Two other accused in the case, Swapna Suresh and M Sivasankar, the former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, were granted bail in this case earlier.

'When two of the accused were granted bail in the very same set of facts, I do not find any valid reasons to deny bail to the other co-accused.All of them are similar and similarly placed as against the offence alleged in this case', the court said.

The Enforcement Directorate probing the money trail in the case has alleged that both Nair and Sarith are the kingpins behind the crime and hit upon the idea of smuggling gold from UAE to India.

It was alleged that the accused altogether sent 21 consignments, of which, the Customs (Preventive) Commissionerate, Cochin caught hold of the 21st consignment which is involved in this case.

Gold, weighing over 30 kg and said to be worth about Rs 15 crore, was seized by the Customs from a 'diplomatic baggage' that had landed by air cargo at the Thiruvananthapuram international airport from the Gulf on July 5 last year.

Central agencies including the customs, ED and NIA are probing the case.PTI TGB BN BALA BALA