Muscat: Waleed Khalid Salam Al Rashaidi and his wife — the Omani couple held by police in the South-Indian state of Kerala for allegedly exchanging fake Indian currency — will be released by this weekend, highly placed sources in the state police and prosecution offices said yesterday.
"We are convinced of their innocence. But the case falls into the cross-border fake currency category, so it is quite serious. An amicable solution will be sought to resolve the issue," a highly placed source in the Kerala government told Times of Oman.
According to sources in the Kerala police, a top district-police official and prosecution official are working closely with Oman's embassy in New Delhi to resolve the issue. "The Omani couple will be released soon, under the guarantee of the Oman Embassy in New Delhi. The couple will be treated as witnesses and will have to appear in the designated court during the trial," the source said.
A few months ago, two Italian marines, who are being tried for the alleged murder of two Kerala fishermen last year, were released on a similar kind of deal between the government and the Italian embassy.
The Omani couple got into trouble when the police arrested them on January 31 for reportedly exchanging fake Indian currency at the hotel in Kerala, where they were staying. When the hotel management submitted the money paid by Waleed to the bank, it was found to be fake currency.
10 fake currency cases
Meanwhile, the Kerala police sources have claimed that they are currently investigating 10 similar fake-currency cases, which have been reported in the last few weeks, where the sources of the fake currency had been traced to various GCC countries.
"It is worrisome that of the 10 fake-currency cases, five are reportedly from Oman," sources added. The official was not clear on how Omanis were involved in the five cases.
NIA to investigate
According to these sources, the central government of India is taking the issue seriously, and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), the premier intelligence unit of India, will investigate the case.
"We have already talked with the senior police officials, the couple's lawyer, and Kerala chief minister's office about releasing the Omani couple soon. We have received a positive response. By this weekend, they may be able to land in Oman safely," Sheikh Khalifa Al Hinai, a former judge and one of the senior-most lawyers in Oman, said.
Sheikh Khalifa has taken the case on a pro bono basis. "I believe it is my responsibility to help my fellow citizens, when they are in distress in a foreign land," Sheikh Khalifa stated.
"We are following the case keenly. It is not their fault. I have spoken directly with the officials. They will be released soon," acknowledged P.E. Lalachen, the legal consultant at Khalifa Al Hinai law firm.
Even though a coordinated effort has been made by all parties involved to bring back the Omani couple, Waleed's cousin Ali Al Rashaidi, who is in Kerala to assist them, said there was still some uncertainty in the case.
"We don't know when this will be sorted out. There is still uncertainty," Ali told Times of Oman.