India diamond traders held in China for smuggling return

Image caption The men were held in connection with smuggling diamonds

Twelve Indian diamond traders, held in China for two years on smuggling charges, have returned home.

They arrived in Mumbai early Friday morning and were greeted by relatives and friends at the airport.

Chinese authorities arrested 22 Indians, all from the state of Gujarat, in January 2010.

Prosecutors said they smuggled diamonds worth more than $7m (£4.5m) from Hong Kong. Many jewellers in neighbouring Shenzhen hire Indians to supply gems.

Last month, a court in the southern Chinese city convicted the 22 Indians accused.

It gave jail sentences ranging between three and six years to nine Indians. The 13 remaining Indians were also convicted but not given jail terms and ordered to be deported to India. T

Twelve of those were deported but the 13th Indian remains in China and prosecutors there have appealed against his release.

"The past two years have been traumatic. I hope no one else ever has to go through what we experienced," Indian television channel CNN-IBN quoted the brother of one of the returning traders as saying.

The men were arrested after customs officials in Shenzhen conducted a raid following an investigation into a local smuggling ring.

The 22 Indians were among some 33 foreigners who were arrested during the raid.

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