CB begins probe into leak of audio clip

 thehindu.com  11/22/2020 13:39:54 

The State Police Crime Branch (CB) has opened a preliminary inquiry to verify the authenticity of an accusatory voice recording purportedly belonging to COFEPOSA detainee and gold smuggling case accused Swapna Suresh.

The stated aim of the inquiry was to find out if the leak to the media of the audio clip revealed a plot to discredit the Enforcement Directorate (ED). The ED is investigating a few cases involving government agencies such as the Life Mission and the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).

The Crime Branch would also examine whether the "intentional disclosure" of the audio clip to the media and its subsequent dissemination revealed a cognisable offence or a violation of the rules that govern the Prisons and Correctional Services Department.

The widely circulated voice clipping had triggered a controversy with the narrator implying that "investigators" had "coerced" her into giving evidence against Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. The ED had pointed out the narrator did not name any agency.

Investigators said they would need to confiscate the cell phone or device on which the voice was recorded to verify its genuineness. Moreover, Swapna was allowed to make monitored calls to her relatives from prison.

The ED had perceived that the appearance of the voice clipping heralded by digital captions in a website with a marked political slant pointed to a plot to blacken its investigations.

The ED had subsequently requested the Prisons Department to share its findings with the agency. A preliminary inquiry by the department suggested the voice might belong to Swapna.

However, officials said it was unlikely that it was recorded in the Attakulangara Women's Prison here. Swapna had served time in the sub-jail in Kakkanad following her arrest by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from Bangalore in August.

Prisons officials had said Swapna was under tight watch at the prison. She is permitted to meet close relatives once a week on Wednesday.

Applications to meet Swapna are sent to the Customs Department for vetting. So far, the Jail Department has allowed only her mother, children and husband to meet her. Customs and jail officials are invariably present at the meetings.

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