The pilot instructor, Shamuel Kainan Klein (58) appeared at the magistrate’s court on charges of unlawful possession of precious stones and that he did not have the licence to deal in diamonds.
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 kilogrammes of diamonds which were weighed to 8486 carats.
Klein was arrested when he was checking in at Harare International Airport. The prosecution said investigations by the police revealed that Klein had arrived the same day and wanted to leave the same day when he was detained.
The diamonds were found in the pilot’s bag wrapped in a plastic sealed with a plastic tape after Klein bag was searched by Wendy Gomo an official from the airport’s security department.
The court heard that the diamonds were taken to the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe for examination.
Klein was given $5,000 bail and remanded to March 28. He was ordered to surrender his passport and report twice at the Harare Central police station and to surrender title deeds of his immovable property as part of his bail conditions.
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.
Other international rights organisations have said the diamond revenue is being used to fund President Robert Mugabe’s military as well as propaganda machinery to “steal” elections next year.