Monday, October 15, 2007

Russian gem dealer arrested in Sierra Leone

Freetown - A Russian diamond dealer has been arrested in Sierra Leone on suspicion of murder after quarrelling with his Russian boss whose body was found buried near a beach in the west African state, police said on Friday.The body of Sergei Tigranian was found on Monday at a village 20km (13 miles) from the capital Freetown after passers-by saw a hand poking from a shallow grave.Police arrested the dead man's Russian co-worker, Alexander Fedorenko, and detectives expected to charge him with murder."He says they argued over a film they were watching after (Tigranian) said the harlot in the film did the same as Fedorenko's wife, and the deceased fell on a sharp edge and hit his head and started bleeding and died later," said Detective Inspector Samuel Williams, the officer investigating the case. But Williams said he expected the post-mortem to confirm two gunshots to the head. "We are still investigating but we expect to charge him with murder," Williams added.He said Fedorenko admitted to police he covered the body in curtains, tied the hands and feet with Internet cables he cut from around the house, and drove in the dead man's vehicle to Mile 13 village, where he buried the body.The two men worked for Atlantic Diamonds Company Ltd, a gemstone trading and export company in Sierra Leone, where diamond mining is a mainstay of the economy.Illegally-mined "blood diamonds" financed the country's 1991-2002 civil war, one of Africa's most brutal in which drugged child soldiers killed civilians and hacked off limbs.President Ernest Bai Koroma, who was elected last month, has vowed to clean up the industry which attracts prospectors and dealers from around the world.Experts estimate up to 40 percent of Sierra Leone's gems are taken out of the country illegally.