Sri Lanka 'diamond swallow' a bluff

2012-09-11 14:03
A Sri Lankan security official and uniformed police escort a Chinese national who was accused of stealing a $13 800 diamond by swallowing it while pretending to appraise the stone at Sri Lanka's main gem and jewellery exhibition in Colombo. (AFP, Fil

A Sri Lankan security official and uniformed police escort a Chinese national who was accused of stealing a $13 800 diamond by swallowing it while pretending to appraise the stone at Sri Lanka's main gem and jewellery exhibition in Colombo. (AFP, Fil

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Colombo - A Chinese man accused of swallowing a diamond worth $13 600 at a gem show in Sri Lanka actually ingested a fake stone in an elaborate bluff to allow the real thief to escape, police said on Tuesday.

Detectives discovered the ruse after waiting until the man, aged 32, passed the fake stone that he had swallowed at the Facets Sri Lanka annual jewellery exhibition in Colombo last week.

"The man with the real stone vanished while all the attention was on the man who was seen swallowing a stone that turned out to be fake," police spokesperson Ajith Rohana said.

"Investigations are now underway to track down the accomplice and recover the stolen diamond."

Police said the man appeared to swallow a tiny 1.5-carat diamond - creating a distraction as the stall owner shouted to nearby police who arrested him.

The accused man was taken to Colombo National Hospital where X-rays showed a stone lodged in his stomach before a dose of laxatives brought it out on Saturday.

Man put something in his mouth

Police said the man had been constantly monitored by armed guards to ensure the stone was not lost.

Suresh de Silva, director of the Belgrade International gem store, told AFP last week how the two Chinese men approached his stall and asked to examine some diamonds closely.

De Silva then saw one man put something in his mouth.

"When I shouted, one ran away and we managed to catch the man who swallowed the stone," de Silva said.

Photographs showed the captured man, dressed in a black shirt and jeans with his head bowed, being escorted from the exhibition centre by uniformed policemen.

Sri Lanka does not mine diamonds but it has a large gem and jewellery industry and is famed for its blue sapphires.

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