The Blue Diamond Affair explained

The visit of Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-ocha to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday will mark the first high-level talks, in fact the highest level talks, between the two kingdoms in more than 30 years.

Bilateral ties between the two kingdoms have been broken since the “Blue Diamond” incident in 1989.

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

One of the stolen pieces of jewelry was a 50-carat blue diamond which was believed to be one of the biggest of its kind in the world.

Kriangkrai was arrested in 1990 and he confessed to the crime and he said he decided to give back all of the stolen jewelry that he had yet to sell.

Diplomatic fiasco

But that was not the reason for the diplomatic row. All Prince Faisal wanted was the return of the diamonds, if they were returned, there would be no diplomatic consequences assured the Saudis.

What led to diplomatic tension was after the police, led by Lieutenant-General Chalor Kerdthes and his team, arrested Kriangkrai they said they would returned the Diamonds.

But instead, what was sent back was fake jewelry. Most importantly, the blue diamond was not part of cache.

The police blamed a fence, Santi Srithanakhan, but Santi denies those charges. Many newspapers at the time began pointing fingers at the police.

To make matters worse, when the Saudis sent two diplomats to Thailand to help with the investigation, they were killed by unknown actors.

Another Saudi businessman that had knowledge of the investigation went missing in February 1990. All three cases were never solved.

In 1994, Chalor and his team kidnapped Santi’s wife and son to force Santi into revealing his accomplices. Chalor ended up killing the wife and son.

Chalor was sentenced to death in 2009 but he received a royal pardon which reduced his sentence by fifty years. He was later released after spending 19 years in jail.

Resuming ties

To this day no one knows the whereabouts of the diamonds and what happened to the Saudi diplomats.

The incident has been a stain on relations for the past 30 years, something Prayut Chan-ocha wants to rectify this week.

But the Prime Minister will have little to work with, even insiders within the military and the police are unsure about the real going-ons in the Blue Diamond case.

Rumors among the elite and high society circles have circulated for decades about the possible whereabouts of the Blue Diamond.

Some say the diamond was cut up and its parts distributed to the elite in Thai society to keep the murderer’s identity safe. The truth is we will probably never know.


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