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.