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The Blue Diamond Affair - Arrest Warrant Issued in Thailand

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#1 กำนัน

Posted 06 August 2009 - 09:25 PM

There is loads of information on the net about this 20 year old story but surprisingly, a lot of people are unaware of it these days. I've never started a thread about it because it just faded into the background noise of all the crazy things in Thailand... but amazingly, this saga has been re-kindled...

You may or may not be aware of it but Thailand and Saudi Arabian relations are just about as bad as they can get and it's down to one of the biggest scandals in modern Thai history... and IMO it is a gargantuan example of the state of the judiciary and law enforcement in this country. Saudi diplomats that were attempting to investigate a theft from the Saudi Royal Family (Thai worker was the thief) were assassinated in Thailand, witnesses and children were murdered, a total f#####g mess of the highest order, carried out by Thailand's finest in tight brown uniforms. Without repeating what's already been written in volumes elsewhere, if you need a primer on the Blue Diamond Affair, read the following and then come back to this thread...

1989 - Kriangkrai Techamong, a Thai worker steals 200 lbs of jewels from Riyadh palace of Saudi Crown Prince Faisal ibn Abdul Aziz al Saud, the son of King Fahd. Among the stolen gems was a rare blue diamond. The theft amounted to US$20 million.

----- - Kriangkrai stashes loot at his home in Lampang (in the north of Thailand).

----- - Investigation led by Police Lieutenant-General Chalor Kerdthes leads to arrest of Kriangkrai and the recovery of many of the jewels.

----- - Saudi Arabia informs Thailand that the returned gems, including the Blue Diamond, are fakes. The Thai police are the prime suspects.

----- - Al-Besri and the three others- two diplomats and a private citizen - are assigned by Saudi Arabia to look into the highly publicised Saudi diamond scandal

1989 (Nov) - Al-Maliki, a Saudi Arabian businessman close to the Saudi royal family arrives in Bangkok to investigate.

1990 (Jan 4) - Al-Maliki, 35, shot dead in front of his home on Soi Pipat 1 off Sathon Road.

1990 (Feb 1) - Saudi diplomat Adbullah A al-Besri is killed in Bangkok. Ten minutes later, two more Saudi diplomats -- Fahad AZ Albahli and Ahmed A Alsaif -- are also assassinated in Bangkok.

1990 - Saudis downgrade diplomatic relations with Thailand. They dispatch "a tough-talking, gun-toting" charge d'affairs, Mohammed Khoja, to Thailand to retrieve the family jewels.

???? - To protest inaction on the case, Saudi Arabia cuts off work permits to more than 250,000 Thai guest workers.

1994 (Aug) - Wife and 14-year-old son of the Government's principal witness found dead, bloodied and beaten, in their Mercedes outside Bangkok. The witness, a Bangkok jeweler, is in hiding.

---- (Sept) - two police generals (of the 18 police officers implicated in the gems case) are dismissed.

1995 - 13 year-long trial of Chalor Kerdthes begins. Initially he is convicted of ordering the murder of the wife and son of the gem dealer in Aug 1994. He is sentenced to death (but the sentence is not carried out).

2004 - The DSI takes over investigation into the Saudi murders from the Thai police.

2006 - Trial of Chalor Kerdthes ends. Sentenced to 20 years for stealing the recovered jewellery. Six other officers found guilty.

2008 (March) - Foreign minister Noppadon declares Thailand's intention to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia, which will be possible once the Blue Diamond case is wrapped up.

---- (April) - Thai Justice minister Sompong Amornwiwat visits Chalor Kerdthes in jail. It was suspected that he could implicate some former police chiefs.

---- (May) - Kriangkrai -- the thief -- is now living in a small wooden house. It's not entirely clear where he got the money to buy a new tractor.

---- (fall?) - SDI Director Thawee reports that 90 percent of the investigation has been completed.

2009 (Jan) - Thai charge d'affaires to Saudi Arabia speaks of "renewed effort" by Abhisit government to "normalize diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia by resolving the Blue Diamond theft case, the murder of three Saudi diplomats in 1989 and the case of the disappearance of a Saudi businessman in 1990."

Read full page here: http://jotman.blogsp...ond-affair.html

There is also this 1994 article from the New York Times...

The top Saudi Arabian diplomat in Thailand, Mohammed Said Khoja, reached across his desk to a zippered black bag, opened it and carefully removed his gun. The chrome-plated .38-caliber Smith & Wesson is always at his side.

Does he need protection from international terrorists? No, Mr. Khoja explained, cradling the pistol in one hand. He needs protection from the national police of Thailand, a remarkable assertion that few people in Thailand would dispute.

"The police here are bigger than the Government itself," the 60-year-old diplomat whispered. "I am a Muslim, and I stay because I feel I am fighting the devils."

After four years of digging and prodding, Mr. Khoja is the man largely responsible for unearthing the biggest scandal in the history of the Thai national police, a saga that begins with the theft of more than $20 million worth of jewels from a Saudi prince and ends with a trail of blood in the streets of Bangkok...


... "Here is the reason," he said, dropping onto his desk a photo of bloodied corpse of Fahd al-Bahli, one of the three diplomats killed in 1990. "He was one of my students in the diplomatic institute. He had three young sons. They are now orphans."

Mr. Khoja said he would remain here until the perpetrators are put behind bars "or at least until their names and their lives are ruined."

Full story: http://www.nytimes.c...the-police.html

The Economist sums up nicely. I wonder if Thais will ever begin to grasp the shame and disgrace of their country's justice system...
Thailand's Lousy Police Force

And now we have this lip service from Abhisit's attempt to normalise relations with Saudi Arabia...

Published on August 6, 2009

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) issued an arrest warrant yesterday for a suspect behind the murder of a Saudi diplomat 19 years ago.

Pol Colonel Thawee Sodsong, director of the DSI, said his department had gathered enough evidence to charge Abu Ali for the murder of one of four Saudis, Abdullah A. al-Besri, who was gunned down in Bangkok in January 1990...

Full story: http://www.nationmul...al_30109198.php

It's an amazing saga, isn't it... If you didn't know it really happened, you'd think it was the screenplay of some movie that never got made because the script was too far fetched. Frederick Forsyth or Ian Flemming would have been proud to say they'd penned the story. The case thoroughly exposed the ineptitude, corruption and low grade of the Thai police and justice system... and the jewels, which have never been returned, were said to have been split between the rich and connected of the country. It's just incredible that it's taken 19 years to issue that arrest warrant. My guess is that the person named on the warrant (if he even exists) is probably safely dead...
... and early next year, The statute of limitations expires on investigations...


The chances of this ever being resolved to the satisfaction of the Saudis are about the same as the likelihood they'll drag those containers from the bottom of the gulf of Thailand.

#2 TizMe

Posted 07 August 2009 - 12:04 AM

There were also other repurcusions for the Thai economy.
More than 200,000 Thai workers were deported from Saudi as a result of this incident. How many jobs since then have been given to other nationalities instead of hiring Thais is anybody's guess.

Saudi nationals are also banned from travel to Thailand unless they can prove that they have a legitimate business need to go to Thailand. As with everything in Saudi, if you have the wasta then these rules don't apply.

#3 mbk

Posted 07 August 2009 - 12:41 AM

One thing that the Thais should be aware of is that Arabs never forget, and will hold a grudge for centuries until revenge is exacted. Some even go as far as saying that the 9-11 attacks were a pay back for the Crusades. A bit far fetched, but entirely possible I guess.

#4 kamikaze

Posted 07 August 2009 - 02:30 AM

View PostMandrunk, on 06 August 2009 - 09:25 PM, said:

and the jewels, which have never been returned, were said to have been split between the rich and connected of the country.
The way this happened seems to be well known to reporters in Thailand, but of course it will never be reported. And everyone knows who has the Blue Diamond.  :angry:

This was big news just a few years after I settled in Thailand.

What's the betting they solve the case just after the statute of limitations has run out and no one can be prosecuted? That would be the perfect Thai solution. I doubt the bulk of the jewels will be found though.

Edited by camerata, 07 August 2009 - 02:34 AM.

#5 hobbler

Posted 07 August 2009 - 10:30 AM

A Saudi arguing about the lack of justice in a country makes me giggle.  I agree that the Thai justice system is a farce, but it couldn't happen to a nicer country.

#6 yohan

Posted 07 August 2009 - 12:20 PM

View Posthobbler, on 07 August 2009 - 10:30 AM, said:

A Saudi arguing about the lack of justice in a country makes me giggle...
This Saudi guy is totally ridiculous. He better should do something about justice in his own country.

Just a few sentences out of a long report about Saudi Arabia and its justice system...The report even did not stop to say, how much Saudi Arabia is supported by the USA. There are plenty of similar reports complaining about Saudi Arabia all over the internet.


...Human rights conditions remain poor in Saudi Arabia...

...The government-approved National Society for Human Rights failed to issue its second annual report in 2008. The governmental Human Rights Commission opened a women's branch, but its board remained all-male.

...The government also failed to enact an amendment, first proposed in 2005, to extend labor law protections to the 1.5 million migrant domestic workers in the country. Asian embassies report thousands of complaints each year from domestic workers who are forced to work 15-20 hours a day, seven days a week, and denied their wages. Many endure a range of abuses including forced confinement in the workplace, food deprivation, and psychological, physical, and sexual abuse.

...Saudi Arabia is a key ally of the United States and the United Kingdom.
US pressure for human rights improvements was imperceptible in a year that saw visits by President Bush, Vice-President Cheney, and Secretary of State Rice. UK efforts through the Two Kingdoms Dialogue to promote human rights had no tangible effect, if such efforts were made at all.

#7 Ajarn

Posted 21 August 2009 - 03:05 AM

I remember a friend of mine, a Head Judge in Nan Province, giving a ring to his wife from this robbery. Don't recall whatever happened to the ring, but it was sure beautiful Posted Image

Edited by Ajarn, 21 August 2009 - 03:07 AM.

#8 กำนัน

Posted 12 January 2010 - 02:21 PM

Have you been following the movement on this case this week? The statute of limitations runs out next month...

Thai policemen charged over Saudi gem murder
Full story: http://www.google.co...k3jCD8urDbOi48w

Interesting posturing by Abhisit's government.

#9 kamikaze

Posted 12 January 2010 - 03:34 PM

There was a review of the whole business in the Bangkok Post's Spectrum magazine last Sunday, pointing out that any opportunity for resolution will be gone once the statute of limitation runs out. Everyone accepts that the Blue Diamond will never be found (not sure if it has anything to do with the rumours as to who has it or not).

#10 กำนัน

Posted 10 March 2010 - 09:53 PM

Time did a piece on the Blue Diamond debacle the other day: Thailand's Blue Diamond Affair Still Angers Saudi Arabia

#11 กำนัน

Posted 05 October 2010 - 01:51 PM

This story will probably never go away: http://www.economist..._murder_mystery

#12 กำนัน

Posted 19 September 2013 - 07:46 AM

Another three years pass and once again in the news, even after statute of limitations expiry...

Rumours allege that a highly influential figure in Thailand has the Blue Diamond, while the Thai authorities have been criticised of their reluctance to prosecute the members of the powerful police force.

However, Matrouk Al-Ruwaili, a cousin of the missing businessman, said in an interview after he testified to the Thai court yesterday (2 September) that he is "happy" to see that the case seems to be getting more attention from the Thai authorities.


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