NIA will open ‘secret bag’ today

Agency believes the bag will offer some clues in gold smuggling case

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the Thiruvananthapuram gold smuggling case, will get the bag, which it had seized from a friend of accused Sandeep Nair, opened on Wednesday.

The investigators believe that the bag may offer some valid clues and evidences to strengthen the case against the accused. The agency had earlier moved the court for getting the bag opened and its contents listed. The court had assigned one of its staff members to open the bag in full view of the court and the presence of NIA officials and list down its contents. The court had also ordered the process to be videographed.

Meanwhile, the NIA has moved the Special Court for securing the arrest of P.S. Sarith, the first accused in the case. Currently, Sarith is in the custody of Customs officials.

Sarith, a former PRO of the UAE consulate in Thiruvananthapuram, was earlier arrested by the Customs in connection with the case.

Swapna and Sandeep, the two accused, who were arrested by the agency, were remanded to NIA custody by the NIA Special Court, Kochi, till July 21 at 11 a.m. The investigation agency had also slapped the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) against the two.

On Tuesday, the NIA secured a production warrant from the Special Court for arresting Sarith when he will be produced before the Economic Offences Court, Ernakulam. The Customs officials will have to produce him before the Economic Offences Court, Ernakulam, on Wednesday as the custody period of Sarith will end on the day.

The NIA had invoked UAPA against Sarith in the First Information Report of the case as they believed that he had close nexus with the other two accused, who were involved in the smuggling of 30 kg of gold through the Thiruvananthapuram international airport in diplomatic baggage.

Swapna and Sandeep are yet to engage lawyers for defending themselves in the case. A legal aid counsellor engaged by the District Legal Services Authority is taking care of the legal rights of the accused. While releasing the two to the custody of the NIA, the Special Judge had ordered that the accused shall be given the liberty to contact their lawyers while in custody.

The court had also directed the investigation officers to strictly comply with the directions and guidelines issued by the Supreme Court and other mandates of law, while keeping the accused in the police custody.

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