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CBI questions accused Sam D'Souza in Cordelia drug bust case

New Delhi: The CBI on Tuesday questioned Sanville alias Sam D'Souza in connection with alleged bribe demand of Rs 25 crore from actor Shah Rukh Khan for not implicating his son Aryan Khan in the 2021 Cordelia cruise drug bust case, officials said. The agency had given a third notice to D'Souza last week to appear for questioning at its Delhi office, they said.  He has not yet been questioned by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the case which was registered by the agency on May 12.

D'Souza is listed as accused number 5 in the CBI FIR. "The CBI issued him a notice on June 16 to appear before it for questioning. He will appear before the officer in Delhi on June 20," D'Souza's lawyer Pankaj Jadhav told PTI over phone.  His plea before the Special CBI Court in Mumbai seeking anticipatory bail was turned down.

Former Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) zonal director Sameer Wankhede, the main accused in the case, has been granted interim protection by the Bombay High Court till June 23.

The CBI has alleged that D'Souza had brokered a deal between Shah Rukh's manager and witness K P Gosavi for helping Aryan in the case.

Aryan Khan was arrested by the NCB on October 3, 2021, a day after the NCB raid on Cordelia cruise ship. He was granted bail by the Bombay High Court on October 28, 2021 after spending 25 days in jail.

The much hyped case took a twist when an 'independent witness' claimed in 2021 that Rs 25 crore was demanded by an NCB official and other persons, including witness Gosavi, to let off Aryan Khan.  Prabhakar Sail, the 'independent witness', now deceased, had told media persons that he had overheard Gosavi telling D'Souza over the phone about the demand of Rs 25 crore after Aryan Khan was brought to the NCB office after the October 2, 2021 raid.

"It has also been alleged that the said persons entered into conspiracy in order to extort an amount of Rs 25 crore (approx) from family members of the alleged accused of the case of NCB, Mumbai, by threatening them of the accusation of offences of possession of narcotics substances as per the alleged directions of then zonal director (Wankhede) being the supervisory officer," a CBI spokesperson had said after the registration of the FIR.  The NCB on May 27, 2022 also filed a 6,000-page charge sheet against 14 accused, giving a clean chit to Aryan Khan.

NCB officials said Aryan Khan and five others were not named in the agency's charge sheet due to "lack of sufficient evidence".

Besides the NCB SIT found "grave irregularities" and gaps in the probe, the officials said, adding that the central agency's first team that arrested Aryan did not follow rules like mandatory medical test of accused, video recording of raids and corroborate evidence for WhatsApp chats. (PTI)

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