The Blue Diamond Affair
To sit and ponder the actions of man can be amusing, frustrating, and an exercise in futility. Add money, wealth or any other form of riches to this equation and all semblance of logic often flies out the proverbial window. Diamonds, in particular fancy color diamonds, are a form of money, wealth, and riches.
Keeping this in mind, it’s not difficult to imagine the emotions evoked and the scandal launched when a Thai gardener steals one of the most valuable colored diamonds in the world from a Saudi prince.
Theft, murder, mass deportations, a diplomatic cold war, and assassinations are just a few of the consequences. Ladies and gentlemen, presenting The Blue Diamond Affair.
In a nutshell the story is as follows. In 1989, a Thai employee of Prince Faisal bin Fahd, stole from his palace a hoard of jewelry and gems, the most valuable of which was a 50-carat almost flawless blue diamond. The jewels were hidden in a vacuum cleaner bag in the palace and subsequently shipped back to Thailand. The thief followed the bounty soon after.
Following a tip off from the Saudi police, the Royal Thai Police arrested the culprit, Kriangkrai Techamong, who was sentenced to seven years in prison but released after three years. Most of the jewelry was recovered, although some was sold for $30 per piece. The blue diamond was not recovered. And here is where the story becomes really interesting.
A team of Royal Thai policemen flew to Saudi Arabia to return the stolen jewels. Upon being checked by the Saudis it was declared that almost half the returned jewels were fake and the Blue Diamond was missing. Rumors circulated in Saudi Arabia that there were photos circulating of wives of Thai bureaucrats wearing new diamond necklaces that were eerily similar to the stolen ones.
In 1990, a confidante of the Saudi royal family flew to Bangkok to investigate the case and was promptly abducted and murdered. Three months later, three Saudi Embassy officials were shot dead in Bangkok. All murders remain unsolved, however the U.S.-based Foundation for Democracy in Iran claimed in a 1996 report that the murders of the Saudi diplomats were the result of Iranian hit squads.
In 1995, the lead investigator of the Royal Thai Police, Lieutenant-General Chalor, was convicted of ordering the murder of the wife and son of a gem dealer involved in the affair. He was sentenced to death, however is warming a prison cell in Thailand and claims innocence, as do the other six Thai officers found guilty of assisting this murder.
In 1990, Saudi Arabia stopped issuing and renewing working visas for Thais. The number of Thai workers in Saudi Arabia fell from over 150,000 in 1989 to 10,000 in 2006. This cost the Thai economy billions of dollars. Diplomatic missions between Saudi Arabia and Thailand were downgraded to chargé d'affaires level and Saudi Arabia also barred its citizens from traveling to Thailand as tourists.
The jewels in question have not been recovered; Lieutenant-General Chalor claims that the blue diamond is cursed, and the scandal surrounding The Blue Diamond Affair shows no signs of abating or disappearing. Amazing what 10 grams of blue colored diamond can do to working class men, royalty, and whole countries. Go figure!