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China: Detention of 21 Indian traders extended

Last Updated: Friday, July 23, 2010 - 20:13

Beijing: A Chinese court has extended by two
months the detention of 21 Indians, who were captured from the
southern city of Shenzhen in January this year on charges of
smuggling diamonds worth USD 7.3 million.

Indian diplomats here said that a court in Shenzhen,
where the Indians were detained along with 33 other
foreigners, extended their detention period at the request of

The 21 traders from Gujarat and Mumbai were accused of
smuggling diamonds worth USD 7.3 million (around Rs 34 crore)
from Hong Kong.

Officials of the Indian Embassy here as well as those
from the Indian Consulate in Guangzhou were in touch with the
Chinese authorities and also the detained traders to secure
their release.

According to the Chinese law, those committing criminal
offences can be held in prolonged detention without trial.

The issue figured in talks External Affairs Minister S M
Krishna had with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi during
his visit here in April.

Since then, families of the traders have been allowed to
meet them.

As concerns mounted over their prolonged detention, there
is a sense of disquiet among the officials about the future
course of action in view of the Chinese government`s
reluctance to discuss the issue other than asserting that it
was a legal matter which was being dealt according to law.

Indian officials are hesitant to press for the release of
traders against the backdrop of the stubborn way the Chinese
government convicted Akmal Sheikh, a Pakistan-born British
businessman arrested for drug-trafficking, and Stern Hu, an
executive of Australian mining giant Rio Tinto, disregarding
appeals from the British and Australian governments.

There is hesitation even to press for an early trial
because matters could get worse if the traders are given tough

The families of the detained traders, meanwhile,
complained of harsh conditions at the detention facility.

The traders, who are followers of Jain religion,
complained of improper access to vegetarian food.

Indian officials said the issue has been taken up at
various levels and hope to see some positive results in the
coming weeks.


First Published: Friday, July 23, 2010 - 20:13

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