Wed, April 23, 2014
By Khaosod English
03 September 2013, Last upated at 15:46 GMT
After Decades Of Silence, Optimism In Al-Ruwaili Case

(3 September) Relatives of the Saudi business allegedly abducted and murdered in Bangkok more than 20 years ago have voiced their hope that the case is finally moving forward with some progress.

Mohammad Al-Ruwaili went missing in 1989 in the wake of ′Blue Diamond′ affairs, in which a Thai national stole a number of gemstones from a Saudi royal palace, reportedly including the priceless ′Blue Diamond′.

The theft and the alleged abduction of Mr. Al-Ruwaili, along with the murders of 3 Saudi diplomats in Bangkok, remain unsolved. The scandals led to a collapse in relationship between the 2 kingdoms that lasts to this day.

It is unclear why Mr. Al-Ruwaili was targeted, but media reports in the past have suggested that he was sent by the Saudi royal family to investigate the Blue Diamond theft, although Mr. Al-Ruwaili′s relatives have denied such connection in previous interviews.

5 senior police officers were charged with abducting and murdering Mr. Al-Ruwaili. The defendants denied the allegation, and the trial is ongoing. Meanwhile, the Saudi authorities and the family of Mr. Al-Ruwaili are incensed at the long delay of the case.

Rumours allege that a highly influential figure in Thailand has the Blue Diamond, while the Thai authorities have been criticised of their reluctance to prosecute the members of the powerful police force.

However, Matrouk Al-Ruwaili, a cousin of the missing businessman, said in an interview after he testified to the Thai court yesterday (2 September) that he is "happy" to see that the case seems to be getting more attention from the Thai authorities.

It is Matrouk′s second time in the Thai court in 3 months, and 3 more court appearances are scheduled in the next coming months. A fresh break from the long inactivity in the past 20 years, he noted.

"We see progress. We see they are serious about it," Matrouk said, but he also lamented that "We wish they took the case more seriously from the beginning ... government after government sidesteps it".

Earlier in the day, Mr. Matrouk testified to the court as a witness in the case. He was cross-examined about what he knew about Mohammad al-Ruwaili, the circumstances surrounding his disappearance, and different possible motives of the disappearance.

The session lasted longer than Mr. Matrouk has expected (it started in late morning and concluded at 17.00). "But that is good because it means the court pays a lot of attention to the matter", he told our correspondent.

It was a full-house court session. Also present in the packed courtroom were the 5 defendants, a brother of Mohammad Al-Ruwaili, a group of officials from the Saudi government, and some officials from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Ateeq al-Ruwaili, the brother of Mohammad al-Ruwaili, also expressed some optimism, saying that he has received some form of encouragement that the Thai authorities are close to finalising the case. "That′s what we feel," Ateeq told our correspondent.

He added, "We are very hopeful about this. Everybody wants it to be over".

Meanwhile, an informed source told Khaosod that the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs has prioritised the al-Ruwaili case to be the foremost step toward a normalisation in the relationship between the 2 nations.

It appears the current Thai government under Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra is "anxious" to solve the matter once and for all, said the source, who has requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue.

The source continued that the Saudi envoys who were observing the trial today are representatives of different Saudi ministries and "formed a part of decision-making" of the Saudi authorities whether it is appropriate to normalise the chilled relationship.

Nevertheless, both Ateeq and Matrouk insisted that the Thai authorities still bear the burden to do more in order to shed the light on Mohammad′s fate. "The issue is not about punishment" Matrouk said, "We are more concerned about finding the truth. Finding the fact, what happened to Mohammad".

"We just want to see the end of the matter. It is tiring" Ateeq added, "Consider that it has been going on for more than 20 years already. People should remember it did not start just 1 or 2 years ago".

Related:
Trial Centres On Authenticity Of ′Al-Ruwaili Ring′


  • ภาพ : Matrouk and Ateeq Al-Ruwaili
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