Zim: Israeli pilot nabbed with $2m diamonds
Cape Town – An Israeli pilot who reportedly sneaked into Zimbabwe masquerading as a South African Airways crew member, was arrested at the Harare International Airport while trying to smuggle out 1 300 diamond pieces worth over $2m, Herald online reported on Thursday.
According to the report, Shmuel Kainan Klein (58) was not formally charged when he appeared before regional magistrate MrClever Tsikwa. He was remanded out of custody to March 28 on $5 000 bail.
Klein who is employed by CAL Airlines of Israel as a pilot instructor is being charged for unlawful possession of diamonds and contravening Zimbabwe’s Section 12 (1) of the Immigration Act Chapter 4:02 which criminalises entry by evasion.
It is alleged that on March 17 this year, "at around 11:00, Klein intended to leave for South Africa on a South African Airways flight number SA23. It is alleged he was clad in a pilot’s uniform when he presented himself to the passenger screening point which was manned by a Civil Aviation Authority security officer Wendy Gomo" said the report.
As his two bags were being screened, it is alleged, the security officer noted that Klein was uneasy and shaky prompting her to make a physical check of the hand luggage which yielded the diamonds that were wrapped in a sealed plastic bag.
The State says detectives from the border control unit were called in and counted the stones which totalled 1 379.
Further searches were made and another 67 pieces were found again wrapped in a United States dollar note stashed in the lining of the hand luggage.
Investigations revealed that Klein had arrived in the country the same day from South Africa aboard a South African flight as a passenger.
His passport was not stamped by immigration officers on arrival as he disguised himself as a crewmember, it is alleged.
It was also established that Klein had travelled on the said flight as a passenger and not as a crewmember.
The diamonds in question were taken to the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe for assay and weighed 1,7kg with a cartage of 8486,66 valued at $2 437 708.24.
It is the State’s contention that Klein had no permit or licence to deal in diamonds.