COLOMBO: A Chinese man was arrested for attempted theft and taken to hospital for a dose of laxatives on Wednesday after swallowing a diamond worth nearly $14,000 at a gem exhibition in Sri Lanka, police said.
The 32-year-old had asked the stall owner for a close inspection of the 1.5-carat diamond on the opening day of Facets Sri Lanka, an annual jewellery show in the capital Colombo.
“He came with another Chinese man,” Suresh de Silva, director of the Belgrade International gem store, told AFP.
“One of them tried to distract me while the other had a diamond in his hand.
“When I realised what was happening and shouted, one ran away and we managed to catch the man who swallowed the stone.”
Silva said the captured man had offered to pay for the 7.2mm-diameter diamond, which was valued at $13,600, but that exhibition organisers wanted police to charge him.
“He… appeared to be appraising it and suddenly put it in his mouth,” a police officer who declined to be named said, adding the man was admitted to hospital to be given laxatives.
A spokeswomen at the hospital said that an X-ray had been taken and that officers were holding him under observation.
“I believe the X-ray confirmed something that looked like a stone. The man has been taken away and he is in police custody,” Pushpa Soya told AFP.
Photographs showed the man, dressed in a black shirt and jeans with his head bowed, being escorted from the exhibition centre by uniformed policemen.
Sri Lanka does not mine diamonds but it has a large gem and jewellery industry and is famed for its blue sapphires.
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