Thai-Saudi relations likely to worsen after murder acquittals

Thai-Saudi relations likely to worsen after murder acquittals

Relations between Thailand and Saudi Arabia, already cool, are likely to hit a new low after the Criminal Court acquitted five ex-police officers in relation to the murder of a Saudi businessman in 1990.

Please join us on our Facebook page

Abdalelah Alsheaiby, second left, charge d’affaires of Saudi Arabia to Thailand, joins relatives of missing Saudi businessman Mohammad al-Ruwaili at a press conference to express their disappointment after the Criminal Court acquitted five ex-police officers. THANARAK KHOONTON

Saudis 'disappointed' in Blue Diamond verdict

Achara Ashayagachat

Saudi Arabia's top diplomat and the brother of the Saudi businessman who disappeared in Thailand nearly 24 years ago expressed disappointment Monday after the Criminal Court acquitted five men with close police connections.

Abdalelah Mohammed A Alsheaiby, the Saudi charge d'affaires to Thailand, said he hoped for an appeal in the latest case that sprang from the theft of a revered Blue Diamond and a large amount of jewellery from a Saudi palace in 1989.

Matrouk al-Ruwaili, a brother-in-law of the missing businessman at the centre of Monday's case and a complainant in the case, said he felt Thailand after 24 years was still showing lack of fairness. He said he would press for an appeal.

Riyadh also will quickly be mulling possible additional retaliatory measures in response to the "disappointing verdict," added Mr Abdalelah.

Former police inspector-general Pol Lt Gen Somkid Boonthanom, arrives at the Criminal Court yesterday before his acquittal on charges of abduction and murder. TAWATCHAI KHEMGUMNERD

The Southern Bangkok Criminal Court spent 30 minutes on Monday reading the verdict that acquitted the five defendants, all of whom are current or past police officers. Cleared for lack of evidence were Pol Lt Gen Somkid Boonthanom, a former police inspector-general and a younger brother of a 2006 coup participant; Pol Col Sorarak Jusanit, superintendent of Sommoei police in Mae Hong Son; Pol Col Praphas Piyamongkol, superintendent of Nam Khun police in Ubon Ratchathani; and two decommissioned officers, Pol Lt Col Suradej Udomdee and Pol Sgt Maj Prasong Thongrung.

The five were charged in connection with the suspected abduction and possible murder of Saudi businessman Mohammad al-Ruwaili in February, 1990. The court said it must give the benefit of the doubt to all the defendants, since there was not enough evidence to convict the men.

The fact that Pol Lt Col Suvichai Kaewpluek, a key witness, failed to appear in court but only provided written statements weakened the empirical evidence in the case, according to the court's decision.

Mr Abdalelah held a press conference soon afterward, saying the the embassy was not surprised but displeased with the verdict.

"Since a leading judge in the case has been changed just months before the conclusion of the verdict had already raised our concerns and worries that it would affect the results of the case in a negative light to the interests of Saudi Arabia," said Mr Abdalelah.

He said he would quickly send the verdict results to Riyadh, where the government would consider what response to the disappointing verdict could be.

Because of developments in the past, Saudi Arabia expelled 40,000 Thai workers, banned citizens from tourism in Thailand, and cut off almost all trade. Diplomatic relations are at the lowest level, and the only designated jobs of the embassy are to observe developments in the 1990 cases, and provide visas for Thai Muslims for the haj.

The jarring problems began when a Thai janitor stole the jewellery from the palace of then-Prince Faisal, who later became king. Back in Thailand, then-police lieutenant general Chalor Kerdthes ordered the killing of the thief's family and began distributing the stolen gems. In 1990, three Saudi diplomats were gunned down in Bangkok. Then, al-Rawaili, a private businessman reportedly investigating the jewellery thefts and the Thai labour racket, disappeared.

Matrouk al-Ruwaili, the abducted man's brother-in-law said he was certainly disappointed. "After all these 24 years, Thailand still shows a lack of fair judgement. In fact changing the presiding judge in the middle of the case is a negative thing for either side," said Mr Matrouk.

"We will appeal the verdict," added Ateeq al-Ruwaili, an elder brother of the missing Mohammad, also in Bangkok to hear yesterday's court decision.

Lawyer Anek Bounkhoum said Mohammad's family had relied upon the "empirical witness" Pol Lt Col Suvichai. He "knew all about the abduction and murder," said Mr Anek.

But Lt Col Suvichai, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, had refused to go before the court for fear of reprisal. He was examined at a UAE court and at the Thai embassy in Abu Dhabi before senior officers from the Office of Attorney General and the Department of Special Investigation, said Mr Anek.

You can read the full, much longer story here:

Learn from listening

Click play to listen to audio for this story, or download to save the file
: :


  • abduction: taking somebody away illegally, especially using force - การลักพาตัว
  • acquit: to state officially that someone is not guilty of the crime they were accused of - ตัดสินให้พ้นโทษ
  • acquittal: an official judgment in a court of law that someone is not guilty of the crime they were accused of - การตัดสินให้พ้นโทษ
  • appeal: a request to a court to change a decision by a lower court - อุทธรณ์
  • appear: to go somewhere officially because you are involved in something, such as a trial or inquiry - ปรากฏตัวอย่างเป็นทางการ
  • Attorney General (noun): the top legal officer in some countries, who advises the leader of the government - อัยการสูงสุด
  • ban: to officially say that someone is not allowed to do something   - ห้ามอย่างเป็นทางการ
  • benefit of the doubt: accepting that somebody has told the truth or has not done something wrong because you cannot prove that they have not -
  • brother-in-law: the brother of your husband or wife, or the man who is married to your sister, or the man who is married to the sister of your wife or husband - พี่เขยหรือน้องเขย
  • charge: to accuse someone officially of committing a crime - ตั้งข้อกล่าวหา
  • charge d’affaires: an official who represents the government of their own country in a foreign country when there is no ambassador there - เจ้าหน้าที่การทูต (กระทรวงต่างประเทศ)
  • clear: to prove that somebody is innocent, i.e., that someone is not guilty of what they have been accused of - พิสูจน์ว่าไม่มีความผิด
  • complainant: a person who makes a formal complaint in a court of law - ผู้ร้อง(ทุกข์),โจทก์,ผู้ฟ้องร้อง
  • concern: a worry - ความกังวล
  • conclusion: a final decision - การสรุป การตกลงขั้นสุดท้าย
  • connection: a relationship between people or groups - ความสัมพันธ์
  • convict: to prove in a court of law that someone is guilty of a crime - พิสูจน์ว่าผิดกฎหมาย
  • coup: the seizure of power in a country by a group of people, usually members of the armed forces - รัฐประหาร
  • Criminal Court: a court which hears criminal cases, i.e., cases where people are accused of breaking a law and where punishment involves going to jail. - ศาลอาญา
  • current: of the present time - ปัจจุบัน
  • decommission: to take out of use or service - ปลดประจำการ. ปลดออกจากตำแหน่ง
  • defendant: someone who has been accused of a crime and is on trial - จำเลย
  • Department of Special Investigation: DSI; a police department investigating serious crimes involving influential people, organised crime, or crimes using highly sophisticated technology - กรมสอบสวนคดีพิเศษ
  • designated: marked, separated, or given a name for a particular purpose - ถูกกำหนด
  • diamond (noun): one of the most expensive precious stones used for jewelry - เพชร
  • diplomat: an official whose job is to represent their government in a foreign country - นักการทูต
  • disappear: to move something or someone somewhere where they can no longer be seen - หายไป, สาบสูญ, สูญหาย
  • disappointing: not as good, successful, etc. as you had hoped; making you feel disappointed - น่าผิดหวัง, ผิดคาด
  • disappointment: the feeling of being unhappy because something that you hoped for or expected did not happen or because someone or something was not as good as you expected - ความผิดหวัง
  • displeased: not happy or satisfied with something - ไม่พอใจ
  • distribute: to give something out to many different places - แจกจ่าย
  • embassy: a building where a group of officials work who represent their government in a foreign country - สถานทูต
  • empirical (adj): based on experiments or experience rather than ideas or theories - ซึ่งได้จากประสบการณ์หรือการทดลองมากกว่าทฤษฎี
  • evidence: facts statements or objects that help to prove whether or not someone has committed a crime - หลักฐาน
  • expel: to force someone to leave - ขับไล่,ไล่ออก
  • fairness (noun): the quality of treating people equally or in a way that is reasonable - ความเป็นธรรม
  • gem: a jewel (= precious stone), especially when cut into a particular regular shape - อัญมณี, เพชรพลอย
  • inspector-general (noun): a senior officer in the police force -
  • investigate: to try to find out the facts about something in order to learn the truth about it - ตรวจสอบหาความจริง
  • janitor: someone whose job is to take care of a public building such as a hospital or school - ภารโรง
  • jarring (adj): of doing something harmful to somebody because they have harmed you first - ซึ่งแก้แค้นคืน, ทำให้สั่นสะเทือน
  • jewellery: objects such as rings and necklaces that people wear as decoration - เพชรพลอย,อัญมณี
  • judge: someone whose job is to make decisions in a court of law - ตุลาการ, ผู้พิพากษา
  • key: very important - ที่สำคัญ
  • labour: people whose job involves hard physical work that is not skilled, especially work that is done outdoors - กรรมกร, ผู้ใช้แรงงาน
  • lack of: when there is not enough of something - ขาด
  • measure: an action that is intended to achieve or deal with something - มาตราการ
  • mull: to think carefully about something over a period of time - ครุ่นคิด
  • murder (noun): the crime of intentionally killing a person - ฆาตกรรม
  • negative: bad - ที่เป็นด้านลบ
  • observe: to watch or study someone or something with care - สังเกตการณ์
  • palace: the official home of a king, queen, president, etc, a large impressive house - พระราชวัง, ตำหนัก, ปราสาท
  • participant: someone who takes part in something - ผู้เข้าร่วม
  • presiding (adj): leading or being in charge of something such as a court, parliament, event, etc. - รับผิดชอบ, เป็นประธาน
  • press conference: an official meeting where someone makes a formal statement about a particular issue or event to journalists and answers their questions about it - การแถลงข่าว
  • press for: to try in a determined way to make someone do something - ผลักดัน, บังคับ, รบเร้า, กระตุ้น
  • racket: an illegal activity that earns money - การหาเงินโดยผิดกฎหมาย
  • relations: official dealings between countries - ความสัมพันธ์ระหว่างประเทศ
  • relative: a member of your family - ญาติพี่น้อง
  • rely on: to depend on or trust - พึ่งพา  เชื่อถือ ไว้ใจ
  • reprisal: something unpleasant that is done to punish someone because of something bad they have done to you - การตอบโต้ด้วยกำลังทหาร
  • retaliatory (adj): of doing something harmful to somebody because they have harmed you first - ซึ่งแก้แค้นคืน
  • revered: highly respected and admired - ซึ่งแสดงความเคารพนับถือ
  • spring from (verb): to be caused by something; to start from something - เกิดจาก, เริ่มต้นจาก
  • superintendent: a senior police officer - เจ้าหน้าที่ตำรวจระดับสูง
  • theft (noun): (the act of) dishonestly taking something which belongs to someone else and keeping it - การลักขโมย
  • trade: the buying and selling of goods and services - การค้าขาย
  • verdict (noun): a decision by a court of law - คำพิพากษา
  • witness: someone who tells a court or investigators what they know about a crime or other legal case. - พยาน

Do you like the content of this article?