Police now investigating fired Antwerp graders

We publish courtesy of National Jeweler

Antwerp–Grading laboratory HRD Antwerp announced Friday that it has passed the results of its internal audit on to judicial authorities there and has terminated its relationship with the three companies involved in the alleged misconduct that led to the firing of four diamond graders last month.

HRD Antwerp General Manager Georges Brys is refraining from commenting on the specific nature of the investigation, but toldNational Jeweler: “The police have received our findings. Based on this information, they have started an investigation. The police investigation is going on. It would be inappropriate to mention what they are looking for.”

HRD Antwerp did note in its statement that the internal review, conducted by an ad-hoc committee aided by an independent third-party company that audited the lab, found that the “grading improprieties” involved only a few individuals and companies.

“As HRD Antwerp’s own investigation was fully focused on its internal quality controls and staff adherence to the strict grading rules, the HRD Antwerp board unanimously felt that all the findings of the internal investigations should be passed on to the appropriate authorities,” the statement reads. “All staff members have received unequivocal instructions to fully cooperate.”

When asked if the police were considering action against both the diamond companies and the individual graders, Brys said, “It is up to the legal authorities to judge if action will be taken to people involved.”

HRD Antwerp announced in late March that it had fired the four graders for what it deemed “unprofessional acts.” The graders involved had worked at the lab between eight and 11 years.  

Charles Taylor found guilty of war crimes

The Hague, Netherlands–An international tribunal convicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor on Thursday of planning, aiding and abetting war crimes during the civil war in Sierra Leone, the 1990s conflict that gave rise to the term “blood diamond” because the stones were used to provide guns and ammunition for rebel groups.

Handed down in The Hague, the ruling in the case said that the now-64-year-old Taylor was guilty of aiding and abetting crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape, the enlistment of child soldiers and sexual slavery, according to various news reports. He provided weapons, food, medical supplies, fuel and equipment to forces in Sierra Leone that committed atrocities during that country’s civil war.

In return for supplying weapons, Taylor received blood or “conflict” diamonds from Sierra Leone, including one 45-carat and two 25-carat diamonds, the judge said during the trial.

However, Taylor was found not guilty of either ordering or planning the atrocities.

The six-year-long trial attracted widespread media attention, most notably in the summer of 2010 when supermodel Naomi Campbell took the stand to testify about some diamonds, which she referred to as “dirty little pebbles,” she had received from the former Liberian leader in 1997.

In a statement issued Thursday, the U.S. State Department welcomed the ruling and said the trial is of “enormous historical and legal significance,” because Taylor is the first “powerful” head of state to be brought to judgment before an international tribunal on charges of mass atrocities and violations of international humanitarian law.

The sentencing hearing for Taylor, who has maintained his innocence, is set for May 16. A final decision on his sentence is expected later that month.

We publish courtesy of National Jeweler