Israeli Pilot Freed In Diamond Case
Klein (58) was facing charges of unlawful possession of precious stones and that he did not have the licence to deal in diamonds. He was arrested at the Harare International Airport when he was checking-in on a South African Airways leaving the country on March 17.
The state alleges that Klein, who is employed by CAL airlines of Israel as a pilot instructor, wanted to leave the country on March 17 on a South African Airways airline wearing his pilot uniform with 1,7 kgs of diamonds which weighed to 8,486 carats and worth $2 million.
But the court ruled that he was lawfully in possession of the gems.The presiding magistrate ruled that the prosecution failed to prove that Klein was not a registered agent of Masri diamonds company based in Israel.
“Accused’s defence remained intact and unshaken. To place the accused to his defence is to ask the accused to prosecute himself and fill the yawning gap left by the state,” said Harare magistrate Clever Tsikwa in his ruling.
When the trial kicked off Klein denied both counts and told the court that his possession of the diamonds was legal since he was acting as an agent for an Israeli diamond company.
He went on to produce a licence and an affidavit from the owner of the diamonds, which gave him authority to be in possession of the diamonds.
Klein’s lawyer, Jonathan Samukange, alleged that the police men who arrested his client stole 2,000 carats of diamonds. It is not clear whether the defence will pursue the matter after their client’s acquittal.
Zimbabwe, which discovered alluvial diamonds in the vast Marange diamonds fields, has been reporting cases of diamond smuggling of late. Two Indians were arrested in the Asian country in possession of $2 million worth of Zimbabwean diamonds.
The Kimberley Process, a diamond certifying organ, has given a green light for the country to sell its diamonds but international diamond groups have said Zimbabwe must stop selling its gems because of the massive leakage as well as lack of transparency.