Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Thai Foreign Minister to reopen Saudi gems scandal case

Thailand hoped to restore the former warm relations enjoyed with Saudi Arabia by concluding the 1980s gems scandal case and other cases believed link to the saga, according to Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama.

Mr. Noppadon met Saudi charge d'affaires Nadil H. Ashri who made a courtesy call on him at the ministry.

The foreign minister later told reporters he affirmed Thailand wanted to normalise diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia with the aim of re-establishing the Saudi Arabia Embassy and again welcoming its ambassador to Thailand.

Mr. Noppadon added diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia could be restored after a conclusion of cases including the Saudi diamond theft and murder of four Saudi diplomats and the disappearance of one Saudi businessman in the 1980s.

Justice Minister Sompong Amornwiwat and acting director general of the Department of Special Investigation Pol. Col. Thawee Sodsong would be invited to coordinate the reopened investigation to resolve the cases and finding a solution which would satisfy Riyadh, he said.

The minister stressed that the government would seriously address the case and would find and punish the wrongdoers behind the cases.

The case dates to the late 1980s when Kriangkrai Techamong, a Thai worker employed in the palace of a Saudi prince, stole jewellery and other valuables from the Saudi royal family's palace and escaped with the cache of jewels to his Lampang home.

The Thai police retrieved some of the stolen items, but a number of the most valuable gems and jewellery pieces have not been recovered.

Moreover, when the recovered treasures were returned to Saudi Arabia, the main jewel, the "Blue Diamond", proved to have been replaced with an artificial stone.

While one Thai police general went to prison for his role in the affair, the overall case is still unresolved, including murders of several Saudi diplomats and the disappearance of a Saudi businessman, which resulted in Thailand's diplomatic relations with Saudi being downgraded to the charge d'affaires level.

The unresolved cases have hampered political, economic and trade relations between the two countries for 20 years.

There were 150,000-200,000 Thai workers in Saudi Arabia before the cases but now there are only 10,000 workers there, Mr. Noppadon said, adding that Thailand had lost Bt200 billion income as fewer Thai workers were allowed to go to Saudi Arabia. (TNA)

1 comment:

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