SHE sued Shangri- Hotel over a diamond ring that went missing during her stay there last year, but when the trial opened in the High Court on Monday, the American multi-millionaire was nowhere to be seen.

In a closed-door hearing, lawyers for Ms Anne Hendricks Bass, 68, sought to have her testify via video-conferencing from the United States instead. Ms Bass was unable to come to court this week due to a heavy schedule and prior business commitments .

The application was rejected by Justice Judith Prakash, who allowed Ms Bass to come in January next year to testify. Ms Bass, a businesswoman and philantropist, had gone to court to compel the hotel to compensate her US$220,000 (S$284,184) for the loss of her ring. The value of the ring is in dispute.

Parisian jeweller Joel Aurthur Rosenthal who sold her the ring in 1986 and appraised its value, will not be testifying. As such, his expert testimony will not be admitted in court. The hotel's expert witness, gemologist Tay Thye Sun, has valued the ring at between US$50,000 and US$60,000.

In her suit, she said that her gold ring, set with a 6.41 carat diamond, went missing on Feb 6 last year, two days after she checked into the Shangri-. Her lawyer, Mr Eugene Thuraisingam argued that the hotel was strictly liable to pay Ms Bass the market value of the ring.

He contended that the ring was probably stolen by two employees who were in the room while Ms Bass was in the bathroom. The hotel's lawyer, Mr K. Anparasan, said in his opening statement that Ms Bass could have lost the ring elsewhere. He said she failed to take precautions by putting the ring in a safe deposit box; in any case, it was impossible for the employees to have stolen it as they only stepped foot in the living room.

Rich plaintiff's no-show