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Woman arrested on mistaken identity seeks assurance from Madras HC

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Chennai: A woman, who spent five days in Puzhal jail here after being arrested on mistaken identity, today appeared before the Madras High Court and sought an assurance it will not happen in future.

Sarah Thomas, an NRI from Dubai, was detained by immigration officials and later arrested on October 29 when she came to attend a marriage of her colleague in Madurai. She was lodged in Puzhal prison and then handed over to Punalur Police of Kerala.

The matter pertains to a case filed against one Sara Williams by police at Punalur in Kerala. They came to Chennai on information and arrested Sarah Thomas.

The immigration officials, Chennai police and Kerala police had committed a 'series of blunders' in assuming that she was Sara Williams-- who was absconding for 13 years in a cheating case. It was only after spot verification and statement from the original fugitive's parents themselves, that Kerala police realized their mistake. Her son Kevin John Sajith filed a habeas corpus petition seeking to punish the officers concerned for arresting and detaining his mother illegally.

A division bench of Justice S Tamilvanan and Justice T Mathivanan had summoned the senior immigration officer who first detained Sarah at the airport.

The official K N Singh today appeared before the judges who asked him to file an affidavit containing his personal details by Friday. On her part, Sarah Thomas sought an assurance from the officials that such a mistake would not happen again in future.

A clear message should be given to all airports and immigration offices that she is not Thomas Sara Williams the police is looking for and should ensure her free movement in India and elsewhere, she said in an affidavit.

Reserving her right to sue the delinquent officials for compensation and other remedies, Sarah Thomas said the incident had left a permanent scar and added that her character had been maligned as she had been labelled a hardcore criminal during her unlawful detention.

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