(AFP) A CHINESE man arrested for attempted theft after swallowing a diamond worth nearly $US14,000 ($13,750) at a gem exhibition in Sri Lanka will have to undergo surgery to remove the stone, police say.
The 32-year-old had asked the stall owner for a close inspection of the 1.5-carat diamond on the opening day of Facets Sri Lanka, an annual jewellery show in Colombo.
"He came with another Chinese man. One of them tried to distract me while the other had a diamond in his hand," Suresh de Silva, director of the Belgrade International gem store, told AFP.
"When I realised what was happening and shouted, one ran away and we managed to catch the man who swallowed the stone."
The man was taken to the Colombo National Hospital where he was to be administered laxatives, but police said X-rays showed the diamond was lodged in his gullet and was not going down.
"Doctors have advised surgery to remove the diamond," police spokesman Ajith Rohana told AFP.
"The man's life could be in danger if the pointed end of the diamond tears his guts. We have already informed courts about this. For the man's own safety, he will have to undergo surgery."
He said a successful prosecution was dependent on retrieving the stone, adding that officers were also keen to interview the other man, who fled the hall.
The two men had arrived in Sri Lanka on Monday as tourists, police said.