Thursday. 09.02.2023

Prominent Indian citizen residing in Finland wanted by Interpol

Indian authorities request his arrest for allegedly cheating a woman to whom he promised a residence permit and a well-paid job in Finland.

Sanal Edamaruku with former President Tarja Halonen in 2018. Photo: Facebook/Sanal Edamaruku.

Interpol has issued a red notice against Sanal Edamaruku, a prominent Indian citizen residing in Finland. The document, of which this reporter has seen a copy, requests action to be taken in order to locate and arrest him with a view to extradition.

The red notice is a request by Interpol to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.

Sanal Edamaruku is the president of Rationalist International, a movement he founded in 1995 and whose headquarters moved later to Helsinki. According to its website, rationalists aim to make "the voice of reason heard and considered when decisions which will shape our future are taken." 

'Freethinker and atheist'

In his personal blog, Edamaruku defines himself as a "skeptic, freethinker, humanist and atheist," whom the Catholic Church "attempts to silence."

But the Church is not the only institution that has taken an interest in him.

He is also being sought by a court in the city of Alappuzha (in the Indian state of Kerala) for an alleged fraud against Prameela Devi, a woman from whom he collected 1,575,000 Indian rupees (more than 18,000 euros) for a non-existent job offer in Finland, a visa and a work permit.

According to Interpol's summary of the case, Edamaruku offered the complainant a visa for educational purposes, a job with high salary and a permanent residence permit in Finland, for which the woman paid a big sum of money. But he neither gave her the travel permits nor refunded the money. Therefore, he is accused of having committed the offence of cheating and criminal breach of trust.

'The offer was fake'

"Mr Sanal Edamaruku was known to me as a prominent Rationalist leader in India. He used his prominence to generate trust in me and offered me a visa for a better job in Finland." "He cheated me," says Prameela Devi, who claims to work in the department of Economics and statistics of the Kerala Government.

According to the plaintiff, the money was sent to Edamaruku's account with the State Bank of India through several transfers made between February 2015 and October 2016. But after a long period of time, the suspect failed to provide her with the promised job and work permit.

"When I insisted, he mailed me a job offer letter offering me a job in his own firm, named Rationalist International (...) when I tried to apply for the residence permit it was revealed that the so called offer was fake and his firm was not entitled to offer any job for me or anyone," Prameela explained in a statement sent to this journal.

Tired of having no answers to her demands and suspecting that she had been scammed, in June 2017 the woman decided to report the events to the police. An investigation began which led to Alappuzha Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate issuing an arrest warrant against Edamaruku in 2018.

Now the complainant says she wishes to see Sanal Edamaruku extradited to India to respond for his acts. But since he resides in Finland, the case is now in the hands of Interpol and ultimately depends on the Finnish authorities.

Finland does not say 'yes' or 'no'

Finnish police say that, according to Interpol's confidentiality rules, they cannot confirm or deny if they have received the red notice against Edamaruku.

"If such a red notice would exist, we would act accordingly in close cooperation with Interpol and the country that issued the notice," said Senior Detective Superintendent Hannu Kautto, from the National Bureau of Investigation.

According to Kautto, when there is a red notice on a citizen from outside the European Union, the Ministry of Justice is the authority responsible for deciding if there are grounds for taking action and what action to take.

In each case, the country's authorities must also examine whether some exceptional circumstances (such as human rights issues) should be taken into account before proceeding to arrest and extradition.

Prominent Indian citizen residing in Finland wanted by Interpol