Six thieves are set to go on trial for stealing rare, 17th-century jewels insured for over EUR 100 million from the Green Vault Museum in Dresden, which boasts the largest treasure collection in Europe.
The six alleged crooks are set to go on trial on 28th January.
The heist of which they are accused took place at the Green Vault Museum in the city of Dresden, which is the capital of the eastern German state of Saxony, on 25th November 2019.
Two of the defendants are accused of having broken into the building early in the morning, before punching holes in a display case with an axe and tearing out the rare items of jewellery on display inside it.
Investigators also found a window that had been cut into days earlier before being temporarily glued back together. This was not noticed at the time because the area was in a blind spot that the cameras could not see.
The jewels have still not been recovered.
The case has been widely dubbed the biggest jewellery theft in German history, and the six accused have alleged ties to the Remmo clan, which, according to German newspaper Spiegel, is a criminal network of interconnected families of Arabic origin.
The defendants, all aged between 22 and 28 years old, stand accused of looting the Green Vault Museum and stealing 21 pieces of jewellery dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as other rare artefacts containing a total of 4,300 diamonds worth over EUR 113 million (GBP 95 million).
The defendants are accused of having committed other crimes to cover up the heist, including burning the getaway car in an underground car park.
A spokesperson for the regional court, who has not been named, is quoted in German daily Bild as saying: “The car used for the actual commission of the crime is said to have been parked in the underground car park of a residential complex in Dresden and set on fire in order to remove traces.”
The blaze reportedly damaged 61 other cars and injured a local resident, according to local media. The defendants face charges of theft and property damage, as well as grievous bodily harm.
Shortly after the heist, the police in Saxony offered a EUR-500,000 (GBP-420,000) reward for information that could lead to the apprehension of the suspects.
Police said at the time of the heist that they had enlisted 40 criminology experts to solve the case.
The cops said in a statement at the time, on 25th November 2019, that the criminals had broken into “the historic Green Vault on Taschenberg Street and stole high-quality jewellery from a display case.”
The cops added: “Security staff alerted the Dresden police about the break-in early in the morning. This then triggered extensive search measures, during which, among other things, 16 radio patrol cars were involved.
“At the same time, the federal police and neighbouring police stations were included in the investigation. The perpetrators have not yet been caught. The manhunt continues.
“Against the background of the events, the Dresden Police Department has set up a special commission. In the commission, which bears the name ‘Epaulette’, 40 criminalists are currently working on the clarification of the case.”
The suspects were all detained a year later in a series of police raids.
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