The Great Diamond of Africa is a new wave of outrage

The Great Diamond of Africa is a new wave of outrage

Royal gift or ‘stolen’ gem? Calls for UK to return 500 carat Great Star of Africa diamond stolen in Botswana

This article is more than 4 years old

This article is more than 4 years old

The UK’s decision to deny a diplomatic return to the Botswanan government over the theft and loss of a 500-carat diamond known as the Great Star of Africa has sparked a furious reaction from the world’s leading diamond experts.

The diamond, nicknamed the “Black Star”, was stolen from the Dhorumani Hills in southern Botswana in 2007.

The South African government paid the country a rands1bn (£500m) fine for “conspiracy against peace and security” after the theft. The British government paid a similar sum to keep the stone in exile, as part of its policy of refusing to hand over illegally obtained artefacts to any country.

It is a policy that has created a new wave of demand for stolen or illegally removed artefacts from around the world.

The controversy over the diamond began earlier this year when the Botswanan government told the South African government that it wanted the stone back.

South Africa said it would wait four years before handing over the stone – the longest period in recent history. The UK has told Botswanan officials that the diamond, which will command a price of £2.5m to £4m if sold, is not culturally important enough to give back.

In the past three days, the diamond has reached a new stage of outrage.

Called by an independent expert panel on the theft, the case against the UK government has been bolstered by the fact that the Great Diamond was stolen and only returned 12 hours later, by a UK diplomatic courier flown directly from Johannesburg.

The theft sparked weeks of fury across Britain, with MPs demanding the return of the stolen diamond.

More than 20,000 people signed a petition to the Prime Minister asking that the UK government return the diamond. A campaign website called diamondbritain

Leave a Comment