Two Indians who were arrested in May this year from Paro International Airport in Bhutan have been sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment by the country’s Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The two men were detained by customs officials while trying to smuggle approximately 3.5 kilograms of gold hidden inside suitcases.
The accused were identified as Noushad Khazilane Ebrahim and Jamal Powal Chalkara, both hailing from South Indian state of Kerala.
Customs officials on screening the baggage noticed a dark metallic object. Upon checking, one of the passengers was found carrying 1.47 kilograms of gold in the form of rod coated with silver. The second passenger too was caught red-handed with his suitcase which had its metal frame replaced by gold coated with silver. The frame contained nearly 2.06 kilograms of gold.
Upon interrogation, the passengers pleaded that a friend of them had requested them to carry the rods, but they were unaware that it contained gold inside. They also claimed that they were first-time passengers into the country and hence were ignorant of gold import restrictions in the country.
However, representatives of the OAG argued that defendants’ claims were baseless as ignorance of law could not be treated as excuse. The Court ruled that the mode of operation clearly indicates that the accused were indubitably involved in gold smuggling attempt.
According to court officials, the convicts could challenge the decision in the High Court within 10 days. However, payment in lieu of sentence will not be allowed since it is a felony case.