A London jury on Tuesday acquitted Singaporean Fatimah Kumin Lim of stealing millions worth of diamonds belonging to the ex-wife of the Sultan of Brunei.
The jury reached its verdict after a trial lasting several days at the Isleworth Crown Court where Ms Lim, 35, had denied the charges and fought the case with a legal aid lawyer. She had been accused of taking the jewellery belonging to Madam Mariam Aziz and was said to have replaced them with fakes.
The stolen jewellery included a pear-shaped 12.71-carat blue diamond worth £7.6 million (S$16 million), a rectangular 27.1 carat yellow diamond worth £600,000 and a diamond bracelet worth £3.3 million.
Ms Lim turned professional when she was 16 and went on to represent Singapore in numerous badminton tournaments, including winning a silver medal at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. She quit the sport in December 2002 because of persistent knee injuries, and left for Brunei in 2003 to work as a badminton coach to Madam Mariam. The latter later engaged her as her bodyguard and personal assistant. She had accompanied Madam Mariam on several of her jaunts to casinos across the globe. Prosecutors had alleged Ms Lim sold the jewellery to clear her own gambling debts.
When contacted about the acquittal, her Singapore lawyer Hamidul Haq, who represented her in extradition proceedings here, said: "The verdict vindicates Ms Lim as she has consistently maintained her innocence of the charges she faced in England. She has faced a long and arduous legal battle with very little means in so many jurisdictions."