Categorized | Lebanon

War, assassinations and billions of dollars in losses… The whole story of the biggest theft in Saudi history

By: Sammi Ibrahem,Sr

One day in the summer of June 1989, Kriangkrai arrived at the palace of the eldest son of the then King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud. He was able to memorize the secret numbers that stopped him despite his ignorance in English.

Thirty years have passed since the so-called Blue Diamond War between Saudi Arabia and Thailand erupted on the economic and diplomatic fronts, in which 18 people, including four Saudi diplomats, were killed.

Beginning of the story..

In June 1989, Thai worker Kriangkrai Tachmong, a resident of the northern village of Penemba, worked as a janitor at the Prince Faisal Palace.

The day after his knowledge of the alarm system, Kriangkrai began to deactivate the device, entered one of the rooms he was overseeing, opened the iron safe without anybody’s attention, stole five diamond rings and returned to his residence.

The worker later said that he did not know that night because he did not steal a large amount of jewelry, he repeated the action the next day and remained for two months on the treasury, taking advantage of the owners of the palace outside Riyadh.

By the end of August, the Thai worker had emptied the treasury from its contents and transported it to a warehouse in the palace before shipping it to Thailand by air cargo company.

90 kg jewelry ..

The jewelry he stole totaled 90 kilograms of necklaces, rings, bracelets made of gemstones, gold and emeralds, and watches set with rubies and diamonds.

Among the precious jewelry he stole, there was an expensive and rare blue diamond worth more than $ 20 million.

It was not long before the prince and his family learned of the loss of some of their jewelry. In the second half of November 1989, the owners of the palace returned from their vacation and discovered the disappearance of the jewelry and money in the treasury. , Who promised to resolve the issue at full speed and return the jewelry to the prince.

On 10 January 1990, Kriangkrai was arrested and immediately confessed to the theft, retrieved jewelry and returned it to the prince and sentenced him to five years in prison.

Deception and assassinations

The case did not end with the confession of the thief and his arrest. The prince discovered that only 20 percent of the jewelry returned to him was genuine, while the rest were false.

Thailand continued to investigate the case, and a senior official was accused of embezzling some jewelry, recovered from it and returned to the prince in 1991, but the quantity was small, and the blue diamond was not among them.

Later, the case became more complicated, after the wife and son of the jeweler who bought the stolen jewelry from the gardener were threatened and kidnapped and later found dead in their car.

All of the killings linked to the case were recorded against an unknown person, including the murder of a Saudi businessman who was conducting a special investigation into the case, and four Saudi diplomats. The level of its diplomatic mission to the lowest level, hundreds of thousands of Thai workers lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia.

While the Saudis were looking for their lost jewelry, the wives of top Thai officials appeared on official occasions wearing some new jewelery that was much like Prince Faisal’s.

The Saudis said senior Thai officers were linked to theft and successive killings of investigators.

“The police here are bigger than the government itself,” Mohammed Saeed Khoja, a senior Saudi diplomat who lived in Thailand, told The New York Times in 1994.

In 2015, Saudi Arabia accused five senior Thai officers of involvement in the robbery, but they were not convicted for insufficient evidence.The name of Thai police chief Saung Tiraaswat was included in the list of defendants.

The case has caused Thailand to lose as much as $ 10 billion a year for 20 years because of the kingdom’s ban on Thai labor and Saudi tourism in Thailand, although the fate of the Blue Diamond is still unknown.

“The Curse of the Saudi Diamond”

Kriangkrai was sentenced to five years in prison and was reduced to two years and seven months after pleading guilty.

He returned to northern Thailand and, in an interview with the BBC, said: “What happened was a nightmare for him.”

“All this time since I was arrested, I feel like I am losing my mind. I was scared all the time from anything around me. I thought many people wanted me to disappear or kill me.

Kryangkrai insists that he never imagined it would be that far. But “it wouldn’t have been this big if people in Thailand who were not very influential” were not involved.

He continued to feel guilty about what had happened and said, “My life after prison was full of disappointments and unfortunate events.” In March 2016, he decided to become a Buddhist priest.

Kryangkrai has called on the media to mark his monk as a few words: “I want to be a lifelong monk to erase the curse of the Saudi diamond.

Kriangkrai chose a name for him as a monk that is translated into “He is as strong as a diamond.”

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