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China free 13 Indian diamond traders

world Updated: Dec 08, 2011 13:26 IST

IANS
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A Chinese court Wednesday freed 13 of 22 Indian nationals held on charges of diamond smuggling and money laundering. India took note of the judgment, saying it will seek more information regarding these Indians who will be sent back in 15 days.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was quick to claim credit and thanked China for acting on his request, made during his visit to China last month, to speed up the judicial process for 22 Indian diamond traders.

The remaining traders, mostly Gujaratis, charged with smuggling diamonds worth $7.3 million into China, were sentenced to prison terms ranging from 23 months to six years by a Shenzhen court.

The 22 diamond traders were arrested by Shenzhen customs officials for allegedly smuggling diamonds from Hong Kong to China on Jan 8, 2010.

"We have noted the judgement by a court in Shenzhen, China, on 22 Indian nationals on charges of diamond smuggling and money laundering. Thirteen of them will be deported from China in 15 days and will return to India,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said.

Prakash said the Consul General of India, Guangzhou, will meet the court authorities Thursday to obtain more information regarding the deportation of the Indian citizens. “All necessary assistance will continue to be rendered to the Indian detainee,” he said.

Earlier, Indian consular officials had visited the arrested traders on more than 10 occasions and had facilitated family visits more than five times. “All assistance has been rendered to ensure their welfare,” the spokesperson said.

Modi welcomed the development.

"Thankful to China for acting on my request of speeding judicial process for 22 Indians imprisoned there for 2 years," tweeted Modi.

Modi had taken up the issue of diamond traders languishing in China's jail with ruling Communist Party of China during his five-day visit to that country last month. The visit was aimed at attracting Chinese investment to his state.