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Israeli pilot’s US$2.5m diamond case sucks in prosecutors, lawyer – 9yrs on

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A PROMINENT Harare-based prosecutor and a lawyer, who is also a Zanu PF legislator, have been sucked into a US$2.5 million scandal involving an Israeli pilot, Shmuel Kainan Klein, who was hauled before the courts for allegedly smuggling diamonds in 2012.

NYASHA CHINGONO
This came after they allegedly filed a document in Arabic, rendering the case null and void, leading to the acquittal of Klein, who was arrested at Robert Mugabe International Airport in 2012.

Klein was acquitted of diamond smuggling after the state failed to find evidence to pin him to the case.
Ana appeal was filed. Sources say a criminal complaint has been lodged with the police special investigations team against two other law officers involved in the case, besides the lawyer and another prosecutor.

It is alleged the prosecutors and the lawyer connived to produce as part of the court record a foreign document, written in Arabic, without translating it to English, the court’s official language. As a result, an investigation is underway – nine years later, sources say.

It is also understood the trial magistrate, Clever Tsikwa, admitted the purported “Israeli diamond licence” into the record as evidence notwithstanding that the document was written in Arabic.
The document was produced as a photocopy without due certification, police sources say.

The authenticity of the document is still shrouded in mystery, nearly nine years after the case was thrown out by the state.

The NewsHawks also understands that the investigating officer who handled the matter did not confirm the authenticity of the purported Israeli diamond licence before it was filed.

“The trial magistrate relied upon the questionable document to acquit Shmuel Kainan Klein without ascertaining what was contained therein and whether that document could enable the Israeli pilot to lawfully possess diamonds in Zimbabwe. The acquittal means the diamonds which are believed to be from Marange must be released to him, to the prejudice of the state,” a judicial source told The NewsHawks.

The prosecutors allegedly abused their duties as public officers by accepting a foreign document which was not translated, resulting in the undeserved acquittal of the Israeli pilot.

What is more worrisome is that the document had not been verified by the investigating officers, the source said.

The NewsHawks can reveal that law officers are is still pursuing the diamonds which are being held by the state-run Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe.

The allegation against Klein was that upon arrival at the then Harare International Airport on 17 March 2012, he did not present himself to an immigration officer, but entered the country as a flight deck crew member yet he had travelled as a passenger.

He had been found in possession of a bag of diamonds on the day.

The Israeli national claimed he was an agent for a bona fide diamond company whose licence he produced as well as an affidavit authenticating the agency relationship.

In his defence, he also said he was a transit passenger en route to Israel and that the diamonds for which he had produced documents of origin did not originate from Zimbabwe, but from South Africa.

At the time of his acquittal, the magistrate based the acquittal on the grounds that the state had consented to the production of the permit or licence to possess diamonds which the respondent procured.

The magistrate held that on the evidence adduced by the state, the respondent fell into the group of persons who could lawfully deal in or possess diamonds in terms of the Precious Stones Trade Act and that the respondent was a transit passenger. There was also no evidence that the origin of the diamonds was Zimbabwe.

On 8 March 2017, the prosecutor filed supplementary heads of argument in support of the state’s decision to withdraw its appeal. Both the prosecutor and Klein’s counsel made brief submissions in relation to the withdrawal.

The appeal was subsequently thrown out by judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi under unclear circumstances.

The withdrawal of the appeal means that the judgement handed down by the regional magistrate on 25 April 2012 will remain.

Contacted for comment on the investigations into the matter, police spokesperson Paul Nyathi said: “I need to check the matter in the office.”

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