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Thread: Blue Diamond : Saudi Arabia v Thailand

  1. #1

    Blue Diamond : Saudi Arabia v Thailand

    Thai Blue Diamond Affair: Kingdom demands justice
    Friday 4 July 2014

    Mohammed Al-Ruwaili

    A source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has demanded justice for the murder of a Saudi citizen in Thailand whose case was dismissed earlier this year by a Thai criminal court due to lack of evidence.

    Mohammed Al-Ruwaili, a Saudi businessman, had traveled to Thailand in 1989 to investigate the theft of gems worth $20 million belonging to the Saudi royal family, only to be abducted and killed in what became known as the “Blue Diamond Affair.”

    “The Saudi government does not wish to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries,” said the ministry official.

    “While the Kingdom does not question the fairness of the judicial system, the Saudi government takes issue with what happened during the trial.”

    “The judge presiding over the case had been replaced right before sentencing,” he said. “This, coupled with negative political influence, paved the way for meddling in the country’s judicial system and, as such, in the final outcome of the trial.”

    Three Saudi diplomats were shot execution-style in Bangkok days before Ruwaili vanished in 1990 and Saudi Arabia has long suspected official involvement in the killings.

    “This also indicates that the Thai government had not done enough to resolve the mystery surrounding Al-Ruwaili’s assassination and that of three other Saudi diplomats, nor has it done enough to bring the murderers to justice,” he said.

    “We urge the Thai government to do what is right in this case and put political factors aside,” he said.

    A Thai court had dismissed a case against five men who were accused of kidnapping and killing Ruwaili, including a senior police officer, on March 31 after a criminal Court ruled there was insufficient evidence to try the men.

    The gems and jewelry had been stolen from a Saudi prince’s palace by Kriangkrai Techamong, a Thai gardener, who shipped the loot back home to Thailand.

    Kriangkrai was arrested soon after, but had already sold many of the stolen gems, including a 50-carat blue diamond. Some of the jewels were eventually returned to their owner, but the Kingdom later said that most of the returned gems were fake.

  2. #2

    Blue Diamond : Saudi Arabia v Thailand

    Saudi Arabia Recalls Top Diplomat From Bangkok Over Court Ruling
    22 August 2014

    BANGKOK — Diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Thailand have suffered yet another setback with the Saudi Arabian government recalling the country’s top diplomat from its embassy in Bangkok over a controversial court verdict.

    Abdulelah Al-Sheaiby, the Saudi Arabian embassy’s Charge d’Affaires, was recalled from his post on 18 July, four months after Thailand’s Criminal Court found five Thai police officers not guilty of abducting and murdering a Saudi businessman who went missing in Bangkok in 1990.

    “The recall of the Charge d’Affaires came following the court ruling in March,” Abdulsalam Alenazi, Saudia Arabia’s Head of Consular, told Khaosod English this morning. Mr. Alenazi will be the embassy's top official until Mr. Al-Sheaiby returns.

    “The recall came from the Saudi Arabian goverment's disappointment over the court ruling and the judge change,” Mr. Alenazi said. “They feel that there has been some influence and pressure at some level in the case.”

    Judge Somsak Phonsuk, who had been presiding over the case for three years, was suddenly removed from his position in January 2014 two weeks before he was scheduled to finish writing a judgment. The verdict was then rewritten by the new judge who replaced Mr. Somsak.

    Mr. Somsak later told Thai Rath newspaper that he believed he was unfairly removed from the position, but court officials insist that he was dismissed because of an unrelated disciplinary inquiry. Mr. Somsak also said that he was ready to convict the five police officers that his replacement judge ultimately found innocent.

    The court ruling on March 31 was the latest development in the case of Mohammad Al-Ruwaili, a Saudi Arabian businessman who was allegedly abducted and murdered in Bangkok in 1990. In 1993, Saudi Arabia withdrew its Ambassador to Thailand and restricted travel between the two countries to condemn what Saudi officials perceived as Thailand's apathetic investigation into Mr. Al-Ruwaili’s disappearance.

    Hopes of normalised relations were rekindled when a Thai court re-opened the case in 2011, but the last-minute change of judges disappointed the Saudi government, leading to the recall of the embassy’s Charge d’Affaires last month.

    “Saudia Arabia is primarily interested in achieving justice,” Mr. Alenazi said. “The judge was removed two weeks before the verdict and the circumstances [of his removal] were very suspicious.”

    According to Mr. Alenazi, there is no timeframe for Mr. Al-Sheaiby’s return, as it will depend on whether the Thai government proves to be serious about “bringing justice to the case.”

    “Saudia Arabia is willing to work and cooperate with any government officials that are trying to remove this obstacle between Thai and Saudi relations,” Mr. Alenazi said.

    “The two countries are very important to eachother,” Mr. Alenazi added, citing Saudi Arabia’s role as the third largest exporter of oil to Thailand. “If the current [Thai] government is trying to move the country forward, they will not stand in the way of resolving Thai and Saudi relations.”

    Mr. Al-Ruwaili's family has filed an appeal of the court ruling and also drafted a petition to send to Thailand's King, Mr. Alenazi said.

    A spokesperson of the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sek Wannamethee, confirmed that Mr. Al-Sheaiby has left the country, but insisted that Thai-Saudi relations have not been downgraded.

    In addition, while Mr. Alenazi said he clearly explained to MFA officials that the recall was a response to the court verdict, Mr. Sek told Khaosod that he did not believe the court ruling was related.

    "It's just speculation," Mr. Sek said.

    The suspected murder of Mr. Al-Ruwaili was only one incident in the notorious "Blue Diamond Affair," a series of scandals that rocked the Thai-Saudi relations in early 1990s, starting with the massive theft of jewels from a Saudi Arabian royal palace allegedly committed by a Thai gardener.

    A spate of murders and abductions followed the theft. In 1989, three months after Mr. Al-Ruwaili went missing, three Saudi diplomats were gunned down in Bangkok. In 1994, the wife and son of a Thai gems dealer were abducted and later murdered in what appears to be a blotched attempt by a rogue police officers to determine the location of the stolen Saudi jewels.

  3. #3


    Thailand appoints new team to investigate Saudi murders

    Thailand on Wednesday launched a new investigation into the unsolved murders of three Saudi Arabian diplomats and one businessman in Bangkok 17 years ago.

    "We have set up a new team of investigators under Army Colonel Piyawat Gingkaet," said Sunai Manomaiubom, director general of the Department of Special Investigation.

    The department, which is under the Justice Ministry, has been investigating the Saudi murder cases for the past two years after the case was taken away from the police. Several police officers remain key suspects in the murders.

    There will be no former policemen on the new team of investigators, Sunai said.

    "This case is difficult and problematic to get evidence because it happened a long time ago, but we still think we can solve it," the director general said.

    The deaths of the three diplomats and the businessman, gunned down in Bangkok in 1990, were believed to be linked to the theft of millions of dollars worth of jewels from the palace of Saudi Prince Faisal bin Abdul Raish in 1989 by Thai labourer Kriangkrai Daechamong.

    The theft, perpetrated by Kriangkrai while he was a gardener in the prince's palace in Riyadh, sparked a diplomatic row when Thai police, assigned to hunt down the missing jewelry in Thailand, ended up sending imitation stones back to Saudi Arabia.

    Among the missing items was a priceless blue diamond.

    One police officer was jailed for the theft, the assassinations of the diplomats were never solved and many items, including the diamond, were never returned.

    Saudi Arabia downgraded its relations with Thailand as a result of the incidents, barring its citizens from visiting the South-East Asian kingdom and greatly restricting the number of Thais allowed to work in the oil-rich nation.

    dpa sk pj ls

  4. #4
    Saudi King 'ordered diplomat’s recall'

    Saudi Arabia's charge d'affaires to Thailand was recalled on the orders of the country's king, who is upset with the lack of progress into the 1990 murder case of businessman Mohammed al-Ruwaili, the embassy has confirmed.

    Speaking with Khaosod newspaper, the Saudi embassy's first secretary, Abdulsalam Abdullah R Alenazi, said the decision to recall charge d'affaires Abdalelah Alsheaiby came directly from King Abdullah on July 18.

    The recall was made in line with a recommendation made by a Saudi panel monitoring the case, Mr Alenazi said.

    According to the first secretary, Mr Alsheaiby is now in the process of advising the Saudi government on the al-Ruwaili case.

    The timing of his return to Thailand would depend on the actions taken by Thai authorities, he said.

    Mr Alsheaiby was recalled five days before Gen Somjate Boonthanom, a former senator and brother of Pol Lt Gen Somkid Boonthanom, a defendant in the murder case, was appointed to the National Legislative Assembly at the end of last month.

    Al-Ruwaili went missing in Bangkok on Feb 12, 1990, and is presumed dead.

    Pol Lt Gen Somkid was one of five former police officers accused of the kidnapping and murder. The others are Pol Col Sorarak Jusanit, Pol Col Praphas Piyamongkol, Pol Lt Col Suradej Udomdee and Pol Sgt Maj Prasong Thongrung.

    The Criminal Court acquitted the five defendants on March 21.

    When prosecutors lodged an appeal against the acquittal shortly before the June 30 deadline, they raised three points of contention.

    These were the Criminal Court’s rebuttal of a key witness; the rejection of a ring presented as evidence implicating the defendants; and the abrupt change of the presiding judge before the court’s ruling.

    The court had said there was insufficient evidence to prove the defendants were guilty.

  5. #5
    Thailand Lifer Delayed's Avatar
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    Yip truth and justice for sure.

  6. #6
    Thailand Lifer sabang's Avatar
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    Jun 2014
    One is not allowed to comment on the real situation here, under pain of things worse than death. Yet every single Thai, knows the situation.
    But why on earth should Saudi normalise relations with Thailand? Just look at the body count, and the stooges.

  7. #7
    Court affirms term for Saudi gem thief

    The Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the seven-year sentence imposed on a former police sergeant major involved in the 1989 royal Saudi jewels scandal.

    Sawek Kanthama at the Criminal Court where the Supreme Court ruling was read on Wednesday
    (photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

    Upholding an Appeal Court ruling, the court reaffirmed the sentence of Sawek Kanthama, one of seven police officers prosecuted for absconding with jewellery stolen from the palace of late Saudi Prince Faisal bin Fahd. The gems were stolen by Thai janitor Kriangkrai Techamong, but officers replaced some of the gems with fakes before turning them in as evidence.

    Sawek was acquitted by the Criminal Court in May 2006 and sought to have the case finalised after public prosecutors failed to file an immediate appeal.

    While the Criminal Court issued the finalisation order in June 2007, an appeal had been made late. Sawek only learned of it in August 2011. In the second trial, the Appeal Court sentenced him to seven years in prison.

    In Wednesday's ruling, the Supreme Court said the appeal, even though made tardily, kept the case remain active and the Appeal Court had authority to overrule the Criminal Court's earlier decision to finalise the case.

    Sawek said he would not petition the Supreme Court. He has been jailed for two years and six months, is categorised as a good prisoner and will wait for freedom, he said.

    The former police sergeant major in the Crime Suppression Division was a subordinate of Chalor Kerdthes, a former police lieutenant general who headed the team to find the stolen Saudi jewellery.

    The team located the family of jewellery trader Santi Srithanakhan, who reportedly fenced the jewels. But detectives abducted his wife and son, who later died in police custody.

    Chalor, now 76, was sentenced to death, but later received royal pardons that commuted his sentence 50 years. He was released on parole in October.

  8. #8
    Thailand Lifer Delayed's Avatar
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    The catch is here is the Saudi system any clearer and non biased in favour of the rich and powerful?

  9. #9
    Thailand Lifer Delayed's Avatar
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    So you are a police upper up. You are involved in a large theft and murder of 2 innocents, you are condemned to death, pardoned and sentenced to 50 years and then paroled after what 4 years?

    Wow fair handed justice for sure.

  10. #10
    Saudi gems bribe prison term upheld

    The Supreme Court on Friday upheld the 10-year prison term given to Pol Col Prasert Chanthrapipat for taking a 660,000 baht bribe from a jeweller who had purchased some of the jewels stolen from the palace of a Saudi prince 25 years ago.

    Twenty years ago Thai janitor Kriangkrai Techamong sneaked into the home of Saudi Prince Faisal bin Fahd in the dead of night.
    His actions changed the course of relations between the two countries.

    (File photo)

    Pol Col Prasert, a former superintendent of the mounted police, was among eight defendants charged with receiving money from jeweller Santi Srithanakhan in 1993.

    Other defendants including Chalor Kerdthes, a former police lieutenant general, accepted the finality of their sentences after losing in the Appeals Court.

    Only Pol Col Prasert petitioned the Supreme Court.

    The lower court acquitted him, but the prosecution took the case to the Appeals Court, which convicted him and handed down the prison sentence.

    The Supreme Court ruled it believed four witnesses for the prosecution, and dismissed Pol Col Prasert's claim that there was no witness to confirm he accepted the bribe.

    Thai janitor Kriangkrai Techamong stole jewellery worth about 500 million baht from the palace of the late Saudi Prince Faisal bin Fahd in 1989. Part of the jewellery had reportedly been sold to Santi.

    Santi's wife and son were murdered while a group of Thai police, including Chalor, was pressuring him so they could get hold of the jewellery. The bribery reportedly happened during this process.

    Some of the jewellery returned to Saudi Arabia was declared to be fake.

    Chalor, now 73, who was at the centre of the infamous Saudi "blue diamond" case, was freed in October 2013 after serving 19 years in Bang Kwang Prison for his involvement in abduction and double murders in 1994 relating to the gem theft, on grounds of age and chronic ill health.

    The former police commissioner headed the investigation to find the jewellery stolen from the palace.

    He was sentenced to death for his role in the 1994 abduction and murder of Darawadee Srithanakhan and her son to force her husband Santi to give information about the stolen jewellery.

    Chalor was also given a jail term for tampering with evidence and a jail term for Santi's abduction.

    He was stripped of his rank of Pol Lt-General and was ordered to return his royal decoration in 2010, after which he changed his name to Thachapol.

    The whereabouts of the fabled "blue diamond" remains unknown, despite wild speculation.

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