Indian Diamond Traders Held in China for Smuggling Are Released
1/11/2012 7:28:09 AM Shira
Indian diamond traders who were arrested by Chinese customs officials for smuggling were released and deported to India, after having been detained in China for two years.
The 12 Indian diamond traders had been confined in a Chinese detention center for two years. They landed in Mumbail at around 2:00 am on Jaunary 6 and were greeted by friends and relatives at the airport.
"It is a big relief for the families of these diamond merchants. According to the available details, two of the 12 released are residents of Surat, while the others are residents of Mumbai," said Dinesh Navadia, president of Surat Diamond Association (SDA).
The Chinese arrested 22 Indian traders from Gujarat and Mumbai—diamond industry towns—in January 2010, in a raid conducted by customs officials in Shenzhen, a city in southern China close to Hong Kong and known for its diamond industry activities. Prosecutors charged the traders with smuggling diamonds worth approximately $7 million from a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is a major trading post for diamond businesses in Southeast Asia and many Indian diamond merchants have operations there. Jewelrs in nearby Shenzhen are also known for the hiring of Indians to supply gems.
China’s Shenzen Intermediate People's Court imposed jail sentences ranging from three to six years on nine of the traders. The other twelve were ordered for deportation. The thirteenth trader remains in China, where prosecutors are attempting to appeal his release. Most of the Indians who were arrested were diamond company executives or owners of diamond trading companies.
"The past two years have been traumatic. I hope no one else ever has to go through what we experienced," said a relative of one of the traders on Indian television.
The Indian traders were among a group of about 33 foreigners who were arrested during the raid.