BEIJING – Nine Indian traders were sentenced by a Chinese court with varied jail terms and fines for smuggling diamonds worth $7.3 million to the country even as 13 others got a reprieve as they were ordered to be deported in what was regarded a politically sensitive case.
The case had become an irritant in bilateral ties and was taken up at various levels by the Indian leadership with their Chinese counterparts.
The Shenzen Intermediate People’s Court in south China sentenced Raj Kumar Jain for six years, while Bavishi Raju Kumar Babubhai, Soni Amit Kumar and Arun Kumar were sentenced for five years each.
In addition, Arun Kumar has been fined 3 lakh yuan, ($48,000). Rishit Manish Kumar Shah was sentenced to three years and six months.
Four others, Dharm Veer Patel was fined 5 lakh yuan ($80,000) Dhaval Vikul Kumar Patel, Mitul Kumar Mafatlal Chhunchcha and Shah Nishith Garishbhai, Patel Vipul Kumar Manubhai were sentenced to three years imprisonment each.
Jigar Praful Chandra Mehta was fined 1 million Yuan ($1.59 lakh) while 12 merchants were ordered to be deported.
Samir Arvindlal Shah, who was sentenced to one year and 11 months, is entitled to be deported as he has completed the term of his sentence.
Mehta could also be deported provided he pays the hefty $1.59 lakh fine.
The 22 traders hailing from Gujarat were arrested at Shenzhen and charged with smuggling diamonds worth 50 million yuan ($7.3 million). They were accused of sourcing at least 14,000 carats of diamonds illegally from Hong Kong, for sale in the Chinese market.