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Tanzanite Dealer Slain in Kenya


#1

Los Angeles, CA LA Times article
http://www.latimes.com

Scottish gem dealer Campbell Bridges slain in Kenya

Bridges followed a risky career path over 50 years in the
African bush. He was stabbed to death by a machete-wielding gang
that allegedly coveted his profitable mining concession.

By Edmund Sanders

For decades, Scottish geologist and gem dealer Campbell Bridges
navigated the risks that came with mining precious stones in
Africa.

At his camp deep in the Kenyan bush, he spent nights in a
treehouse to stay safe from wild animals. He used a python to
stand guard over his cache of colored gems and more than once
chased away marauders attempting to poach from his caves.

But Bridges’ life and adventurous career ended abruptly this
week when his truck was ambushed in southeastern Kenya by a mob
armed with spears, machetes, and bows and arrows. Police and
family members say the attackers appeared to be linked to a gang
seeking to seize control of Bridges’ lucrative mining concession.

Bridges died Tuesday of stab wounds, officials said. His son,
Bruce, and two Kenyan colleagues were injured in the attack.

In addition to his son, Bridges is survived by his wife, Judith,
and daughter, Laura, a law student in Chicago. Like Bruce
Bridges, they are U.S. citizens.

Bruce Bridges said his father had been fighting for three years
against a group of Kenyans – who he said were backed by local
government officials – seeking to drive him away.

After Kenyan mining officials this year upheld his father’s
rights to mine the land, the group turned to violence and
intimidation, including roadblocks, harassment and death threats,
Bruce Bridges said.

“They are just a bunch of thugs who want the resources,” he
said.

His father’s repeated complaints to the local police were
ignored, Bridges said, including a plea shortly before Tuesday’s
assault. They had left the police station and were headed home to
his base near Voi when at least eight assailants attacked their
vehicle, he said.

“We know everyone who did this, by first and last name,” Bridges
said.

“We reported it to the police, but they gave us no assistance.”

Charles Owino, a police spokesman, said he could not comment
because he had no on the case. Other police officials
told reporters that they were searching for suspects, but that no
arrests had been made as of Thursday.

In a career that spanned half a century, Campbell Bridges spent
most of his time digging in the caves and mountainsides of
Africa, including stints in South Africa, Zimbabwe (then known as
Rhodesia) and Tanzania. The son of a mining company geologist,
Bridges was among those who worked in the initial extraction and
marketing of the gemstone tanzanite in the 1960s. He worked as a
consultant for New York-based jeweler Tiffany & Co. in selling
the gems to U.S. customers.

He is credited with finding, in 1967, an equally rare green
gemstone called tsavorite. When Tanzania nationalized its mining
industry, Bridges moved his prospecting business to neighboring
Kenya, where he laid claim to a large deposit of the
green-specked rocks near the border with Tanzania. He named the
stones after Tsavo National Park, near where his company,
Tsavorite USA, mines and sells gems.

Family members expressed skepticism that Kenyan authorities
would prosecute those involved in the slaying and have asked the
U.S. and British embassies to launch their own inquiries.

Officials at both embassies said they were assisting the family,
but had no plans to get involved in the criminal investigation
unless asked by Kenyan authorities.

“We are closely following the investigation and hope that the
perpetrators will be brought to swift justice,” said Charley
Williams, spokeswoman for the British High Commission in
Nairobi.

The attack comes amid what many see as a resurgence in violence,
crime and corruption in Kenya, which is struggling with a
sluggish economy and a stalled coalition government, formed as a
compromise after a disputed presidential election in late 2007.

With police officers who routinely seek bribes and an
overburdened court system, many crimes in Kenya are never
prosecuted.

Despite prodding from the international community, the
government has yet to punish perpetrators in the riots and tribal
clashes that killed more than 1,000 people during the
post-election crisis.

Bruce Bridges said his father had grown increasingly worried
about Kenya’s political and social instability but did not expect
the threats against his business to turn so violent.

“He used to say that with the way things in Kenya were going, who
knows what might happen,” Bridges said. “He knew the risks. He
understood Africa. But to have something like this happen is just
unbelievable.”


#2

Campbell Bridges the geologist and gemologist who discovered
Tsavorite garnet in 1967 was brutally murdered at his mine in Kenya
last Tuesday August 11. His son and 2 bodyguards were injured. Eye
witnesses have identified his attackers(they were known claim
poachers) but the police are looking the other way. Campbell was
killed by poachers who wanted his legitimate claim on the tsavorite
mine. We need to get the word out to the world In order to put
pressure on the Kenyan government to prosecute these murderers and
to protect legitimate business owners in that country. Campbell’s
wife, son and daughter are US citizens and the company is a US
company Tsavorite USA. []

Campbell Bridges murder is a terrible loss to his family and the
entire gem and jewelry community. I hope that orchid members will act
to help make his story known to the world so that justice can take
place in Kenya. Thank you for your help.

Estelle Vernon
Estelle Vernon Designs


#3

This is SO sad and tragic. I knew the name immediately as, although
obviously I didn’t know him, I’d seen him broadcast from the Tuscon
gem show a while back (maybe last year) and remembered him as being
the one who discovered Tsavorite garnet - so I knew of him, and he
stuck in my mind as being a very charismatic chap. I really can’t
get my head around how anybody can think they have the right to
deprive another human being of the rest of their life, and deprive
their family of a loved one. It gets you right in the gut just
thinking about it.

I sincerely hope the perpetrators are brought to justice, but have
my doubts, based on the obvious corruption which abounds.

My thoughts are with Campbell’s family and friends.

Helen
UK


#4

this made the national news on PBS yesterday afternoon


#5

The loss of Campbell Bridges is mourned by all of us in the gemstone
community. He was the founder of tsavroite and the worlds most famous
gemologist and miner of tsavorite and many other stones from Kenya.
His mine, the Scorpion Mine,is in Teita Teveta on the Shako Ranch
property and one of the leading producers of tsavroite in Kenya near
Voi Kenya. He was also the president of ICA - International Color
Stone Association, its founder,as well as the founder of the Kenyan
Miners Union. He is mourned by many kenyan miners and their
families… He did marketing for many miners who had no source for
such marketing in the USA\and world markets.

This case needs everyones help in bringing to justice the killers of
Campbell Bridges, People should call the FBI, CIA, and the US State
Department as well as the British counter parts thereof. Bruce
Bridges his son and faimly cannot do much in Kenya. They cannot
speak out as they maybe killed or faimly members may be killed and
they are still unprotecetd by the police… As an example, somlian
women withour credentials came to Bruce asking him for hsi whole
story. He knew she was not areporter and slammed the door… Both the
police and politicians are doing nothing and the case is being
covered up… This happens in Kenya frequently due to corruption in
both the police and poltical arena, and the judicial system…

The facts are that Campbell Bridges life,.Bruce and the faimly had
been receiving death threats. for 3 years. THis was from somlians
who were mining illegally on his claim and as well the sharko ranch
in a section called mimi chui-land/hone of the panther in swahili.
These illegal somalian claim jumpers are tied to money laundering
pouring into Kenya from Somalia and as well attempte to take over
tsavroiet mines and other mines iN kenya as well as property,
business, etc in Kenya. Futher many illegal weapons as well as
terrorists have come across the porious somali border with Kenya…,
often with fake paperwork… Many polticians inlcluding Parliment
members and higher officiasl as well as police and the judiciary are
often in conspiracy with such… The facts are local politicians were
in conspiracy and behind such attacks as the somlian illegal miners
worked for polticians in their mines and they weer thrown off the
property many times in mimi chui. Unfortunately, in Kenya illegal
mining, property trespass mean nothing to the police or the
ministry of mines. No one ever goes to jail. Police are corrupt.In
addtion witnesses are afraid to come forth as often polticians and
police put out hit squads or hire criminals to do their dirty work.
or often let crimiansl out of jail as they are paid off from illegal
money made from illegal mining, etc. Tis runs to the highest office
so people are afraid to come forth in fear that they and their
faimly will be killed.

Numerous times, the Bridges went to the police with death therats
and the police did nothing, nor would they even provide protection
or allow the bodyguards at the mine to carry guns. Campbell Bridges
and Bruce right before the attack on the way to the Scorpion mine in
Mimi Chui of the Sharko ranch, had reported such death therats by
known named people who were threatening them as these people had
illegally mined and started mining on the Bridges claim. The police
and authoritys did nothing because their are local polticians and
higher ones that woudl like to take such mine cliams away so they
can profit. This goes to the highest local officials and as well up
through the Kenyan polticial system which is full of corruption.
Unless something is done, then what happened to tanzanite in
Tanzania with front business and mines being taken over by terrorist
groups is happening in Kenya with the aid of polticians doing such
and police which they control as well.

It is thus that preasure must be put on the forementioend
institutions with possible use of internatioanl sanctions to bring
justice for all Kenyan people and also visitors and business
investment to Kenya as well.

Lee Horowitz,
Peru Blue Opal Ltd
Horowitz Co-KCIG Co Ltd


#6

As Helen said, this is sad, sad, news, but I suspect he was doing
what he loved most in the country he had chosen to adopt for his own
with all its faults. I was born and bred in Kenya, and know that the
pages of history for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania are littered with
the names of Europeans who went there, fell in love with the country,
stayed and worked all their lives for the betterment (mostly) of the
country and all its peoples, only to die similarly tragic deaths.
The greater tragedy is, perhaps, that these countries have now lost a
man who brought precious outside investment to them to help improve
the quality of life for the average African. I chose to leave Kenya
many, many years ago, but it is still the country of my birth and my
heart aches for the people there today.

Jane Walker