Jaleel 114th witness in gold-smuggling case


Minister for Higher Education K.T. Jaleel’s acquaintance with Jamal Husain Al Zabi, the former Consular General of the United Arab Emirates, Thiruvananthapuram, and Swapna Suresh and P.S. Sarith, accused in the diplomatic channel gold smuggling case, will surface during his examination as a witness in the case.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which has listed him as the 114th witness, had recorded his statements on September 17 last year. Dr. Jaleel’s acquaintance with Mr. Zabi as “the Minister for Minority Affairs and Waqf of Kerala and other facts,” are also likely to feature in his examination.

The investigation agency has indicated the roles of 140 witnesses in the case in the chargesheet, which was recently submitted to the court. However, no foreign national has been enlisted as witness.

Chartered Accountant Venugopal has spoken to the NIA about his acquaintance with M. Sivasankar, former Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, and the opening of a safe-deposit locker for Swapna at a bank at the instance of Mr. Sivasankar. However, Mr. Sivasankar, who was interrogated by the agency, has not been made a witness. Santhosh Eapen, Managing Partner of Unitac Builders, gave statements about his “acquaintance with Swapna and association with UAE Consulate Thiruvananthapuram in their projects.”

Some of the protected witnesses, whose identity has been kept under wraps, gave information about the duties of Sarith and Swapna at the UAE Consulate regarding the collection of diplomatic cargo from the customs and their association with Faizal Fareed, another accused.

Another protected witness divulged the details of the association of Faizal Fareed with Swapna, Sarith and K.T. Ramees and the smuggling of gold. Some others opened up about their acquaintance with the other accused and the assistance they offered for transporting the smuggled gold.

Besides the officials of the Income Tax Department and banks and two officials of the UAE consulate, the NIA has listed 28 Travelling Ticket Inspectors of Railways as witnesses regarding the proceedings carried out against various accused at different parts of the State. Some of the close relatives of a few accused have also been enlisted as witnesses.

A jeweller has given a statement about a person, who had sold him gold ornaments 10 to 15 times in 2009 and also about an accused who accompanied the seller.

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