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Thursday, May 26, 2022

The Blue Diamond affair between Saudi Arabia and Thailand settled, but the diamond is still a mess!

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Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha’s visit to Saudi Arabia marks the first high-level talks between the two kingdoms in more than 30 years.

Bilateral ties between the two kingdoms have been suspended since the Blue Diamond incident in 1989.

For those who don’t remember, in 1989 a Thai migrant worker, Kriangkrai Techamong, stole $20 million worth of diamonds from the palace of Saudi Prince Faisal bin Fahd and fled to Thailand.

One of the items stolen was a 50-carat blue diamond that is considered one of the largest of its kind in the world.

Kriangkrai was arrested in 1990, confessed to the crime and said he decided to return any stolen jewelry he had left to sell.

Diplomatic fiasco
But that was not the reason for the diplomatic dispute. All Prince Faisal wanted was for the diamonds to be returned, there would be no diplomatic repercussions, the Saudis assured.

What sparked diplomatic tensions was after police, led by Lieutenant General Chalor Kerdthes and his team, arrested Kriangkrai and said they were returning the diamonds. Instead, counterfeit jewelry was returned. Most importantly, the blue diamond was not part of the return.

The police accused Santi Srithanakhan, but Santi denies these charges. Many newspapers at the time pointed the finger at the police.

To make matters worse, when Saudi Arabia sent two diplomats to Thailand to assist with the investigation, they were killed by unknown gunmen.

Another Saudi businessman with knowledge of the investigation went missing in February 1990. All three cases were never resolved.

In 1994, Chalor and his team kidnapped Santi’s wife and son to force Santi to reveal his accomplices. Chalor eventually killed the wife and son. Chalor was sentenced to death in 2009 but received a royal pardon that reduced his sentence by 50 years.

He was later released after serving 19 years in prison.

Resumption of relations
To this day, no one knows where the diamonds are and what happened to the Saudi diplomats.

The incident has tarnished relationships for the past 30 years, something Prayut Chan-ocha hopes to rectify this week. But the Prime Minister will not be able to do much, even insiders within the military and police do not know what is really going on in the Blue Diamond case.

Rumors of the blue diamond have been swirling in elite and high society circles for decades.

Some say the diamond was cut and its pieces distributed to the elite of Thai society to protect the killer’s identity. The truth is, we’ll probably never know.

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