BANGKOK — The Supreme Court on Friday acquitted a group of policemen over the murder of a Saudi businessman in connection with the Blue Diamond Case three decades ago that strained the two kingdoms’ relationship.
The court cleared former police inspector general Somkid Boonthanom and four other officers of all charges, including abduction, assaults and murder over the disappearance of Mohammad al-Ruwaili in 1990 due to insufficient evidence.
The court said the prosecutors’ key witness was not credible, as he was a policeman convicted in another murder case, and his statements were found to be inconsistent with physical evidence.
Lead suspect Lt. Gen. Somkid thanked the court for clearing his name.
“Today I thank the Supreme Court for being my last resort in the justice system, clearly showing that my subordinates and I didn’t commit the crime as accused,” he said.
Somkid also said he was “persecuted” by those wanting to block him from advancing his career.
Thai-Saudi relations turned sour in 1989 when a Thai gardener allegedly looted jewels and other treasures worth millions of dollars from a Saudi palace and fled to Thailand. Most of the jewels, including a priceless blue diamond, were never found.
Al-Ruwailli, who had close ties to the Saudi royal family and was sent to Thailand to investigate the jewel case, went missing days after three Saudi diplomats were executed in Bangkok.
Lt. Gen. Somkid and the others were accused of abducting and killing al-Ruwaili during an interrogation while they investigated the death of Saudi diplomats. They allegedly scorched his body in Chonburi to destroy evidence. His remains were never recovered.
Saudi Arabia expelled all Thai workers and froze ties with the kingdom in 1990 in retaliation.
The charges against the five policemen related to al-Ruwaili’s disappearance were repeatedly thrown out. A criminal court dismissed the case in 2014, a ruling upheld by an appeals court the following year.