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Acquitted Israeli Pilot to Sell Diamonds In Zimbabwe

A Zimbabwean magistrate this week acquitted an Israeli pilot Shmuel Kainan Klein, who was facing charges of smuggling 1.7 kilograms of diamonds worth $2 million.

Klein was arrested recently at the Harare International Airport with the diamonds.

His attorney Jonathan Samukange, told VOA his client had a permit to deal in diamonds, adding he did not get the precious gems in Zimbabwe but from South Africa, and was taking them to Israel.

Samukange said the case was thrown out by Harare magistrate, Clever Tsikwa for lack of evidence.

Diamond smuggling is common in Zimbabwe and experts say the country is losing millions of dollars which bypass the treasury in the process.

Samukange accused the police of "stealing some of the diamonds," adding his client is now looking at selling the diamonds in Zimbabwe.

“I advised him not to collect them back because the police could re-arrest him, and secondly he could get shot because it’s $2 million, almost $3million worth of diamonds,” said Samukange. “What we are going to do is sell the diamonds through the ZMCC.”

Director Farai Maguwu of the Center for Research and Development expressed disappointed that the pilot was acquitted, saying the judiciary is sending a wrong message to smugglers.

“I was shocked with this judgment, the judiciary being the third arm of government, we were expecting a stiffer penalty so that this should be used as an example to would be offenders that our diamonds are a national resource that should not be smuggled just like that.

“If this Israeli guy had bought the diamonds in South Africa and he was going with the diamonds to Israel, why did he bring them to Zimbabwe, and did he prove where he got the diamonds exactly?” asked Maguwu.

But Samukange insisted his client had a permit to deal in diamonds.

He called those disappointed by the ruling “extremely ignorant,” arguing his client did not need to declare anything to immigration “even if he had $1billion dollars.”