Zimbabwe Says Court Rules in Its Favor on Gems as Amari Appeals

Zimbabwe said the Paris-based International Court of Arbitration ruled in its favor after previously ordering the seizure of about $45 million of gems from the southern African country.

The diamonds were seized in Belgium on Sept. 18 after South Africa’s Amari Holdings Ltd. said it was owed money when Zimbabwe canceled its mining license.

“The court ruled in our favor late last week,” Wilson Chinzou, managing director of the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development Corp., said today in a phone interview from the capital, Harare. “This is $45 million that was locked up, but the diamonds will now be auctioned.”

Amari said it has appealed the latest ruling, which hinged on a “technicality.” That means the diamonds can’t be sold, it said in an e-mailed response to questions. The fate of the gems also depends on a separate claim filed with the court by 14 Dutch farmers, who are seeking $45 million of compensation for land seizures.

The repatriation of the stones can happen only after the court has ruled on the farmers’ claim, Zimbabwe government lawyer Farai Mutamangira told the state-controlled Herald newspaper today. The arbitration court will hear the farmers’ case on Dec. 18.

The court also ruled that the diamonds belong to Zimbabwean mining companies, rather than the government, the Herald reported.

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