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Israeli arrest in diamond theft case

An Israeli citizen has been arrested following an investigation into the disappearance of SFr2.4 million ($2.3 million) worth of diamonds from a Geneva company in 2009.

This content was published on July 28, 2010 - 13:48

The arrest at the 61-year-old man’s home near Tel Aviv follows an extradition request issued by the Swiss authorities.

The suspect and another person, who both resided in Belgium for several years, are said to have hoodwinked the managers of the diamond commerce firm Alldiam SA into believing they wanted to buy the gems they later stole.

Folco Galli from the Swiss Justice Office said he could confirm the arrest in Israel and that the courts there were handling the extradition request.

"These are Israeli proceedings so we have no idea of how much time they need to consider the request," he told swissinfo.ch.

According to the petition filed to an Israeli court, at a meeting at the company's offices in April last year the two suspects were shown the gemstones. They then examined them and chose the ones they ostensibly wished to purchase. The diamonds were then to be put in small plastic bags as the parties agreed to deposit them in the company's safe until delivered to the buyers upon payment a few days later.

However, before putting the box with the diamond bags into the safe, the suspects allegedly covertly replaced the precious stones with sweets. The Swiss diamond traders failed to notice the switch before the payment time elapsed.

The whereabouts of the diamonds is still unknown.

The other suspect was arrested in the Netherlands and extradited to Switzerland in August 2009. He was recently released from jail after posting bail, according to the Tribune de Genève newspaper.

On Monday, a Jerusalem court accepted the state attorney's request for custody extension for the suspect – who had been arrested in Israel the day before – and the Israeli news website Ynet quoted the man as "cynically" saying, "the diamonds are in my pocket, they're at my grandma's”.

Ido Liven in Israel, swissinfo.ch

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