Dealers Receive Jail for Role in ‘Conflict’ Trade

An Antwerp court sent eight people to jail recently in the first known criminal conviction for dealing conflict diamonds, Reuters reported.

Samih Ossaily and Aziz Nassour, two Lebanese dealers often linked with the “conflict” trade, received sentences of three and six years, respectively, for allegedly acting as ringleaders of a group that dealt illegal diamonds from Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Antwerp court also fined them $81.77 million for not declaring the diamonds to customs. Other members of the ring received sentences of up to 30 months. Ossaily did not respond to JCK‘s request for comment. But his official Web site maintains his innocence, claiming the case grew out of a custody battle with his ex-wife.

The Washington Post reporter Douglas Farah has also linked Ossaily and Nassour with al Qaeda, a charge Ossaily also denies.