An Israeli pilot and diamond dealer, Shmuel Kainan Klein, arrested at Harare International Airport and charged with attempting to smuggle 1,7kg of diamonds, has accused police of stealing 2 140,34 carats of the precious stones from him.
Klein made the claims yesterday when he appeared before regional magistrate Clever Tsikwa. He accused police from the Minerals Unit based at the airport of stealing his gems when they seized his parcel.
According to Klein, upon his arrest last week, he was in possession of 10 627 carats of diamonds worth $220 000, but the State alleges the gems were valued at $2,4 million. He said when police issued an affidavit of the recovered gems, they claimed to have 8 486,66 carats.
Klein denied charges of unlawful possession of the diamonds, saying he was an agent of an Israeli diamond firm, Masri Diamonds, which he claimed was licenced to deal in gems.
His lawyer Jonathan Samkange told the court the diamonds were given to the investigating officer, Clever Sithole, in his clients absence.
He will tell the State that police must have stolen these diamonds as they were in their custody, Samkange said.
The diamonds were handed over to Clever Sithole in his (Klein) absence and he does not know where they took them or kept them for three days.
Klein, a pilot instructor, admitted possessing the gems but told the court they were seized at the airport when he made a brief stopover from South Africa en route to Israel.
The court heard when Klein was arrested he was wearing his pilot captain uniform as he was on duty and had been issued with boarding passes in South Africa to Harare and from Harare.
Tracy Mundanga is representing the State. The trial continues today.
Meanwhile, Harare provincial magistrate Kudakwashe Jarabini is today expected to rule on whether Munyaradzi Gwisai and five others should perform community service or wait for the Supreme Courts determination on their appeal.
Gwisai, a law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, was last week convicted together with five others of conspiring to commit public violence and sentenced to perform 420 hours of community service in addition to a $500 fine each.
Their lawyer Aleck Muchadehama yesterday said: In terms of prejudice, if they commence the community service they are likely to complete serving before the appeal is heard at the Supreme Court and should the appeal succeed there would be no way to reverse it.
But prosecutor Edmore Nyazamba opposed the application, arguing there were no prospects of success and hinted the State intended to file a counter appeal against the sentence.
Our view is that the sentence was too generous and this court was too lenient hence if the sentence is stayed, it would bring into disrepute the justice delivery system, Nyazamba said.