Crime & Justice

Five men convicted over Green Vault jewelry heist in Germany

Berlin, May 16 (EFE).- A court in eastern Germany convicted five men over the theft of jewels worth over 113 million euros from Dresden’s Green Vault museum in what was one of the most spectacular heists in recent history.

The Dresden district court handed the men prison sentences ranging from four years and four months to six years and three months.

A sixth suspect, who had an alibi and had pleaded not guilty, was acquitted.

The men, currently aged between 24 and 29, are members of the so-called Remmo clan, an organized crime family based in Berlin that was also responsible for the theft of gold coins at the Bode-Museum in Berlin in 2017.

The sentence also included other crimes including arson, dangerous bodily injury, and property damage.

The extraordinary heist took place on 25 November 2019 when the thieves, in just a matter of minutes, broke into the Dresden Royal Palace and removed 25 boxes containing various objects including over 4,000 diamonds.

The Green Vault Museum sits within the Zwinger, a vast palatial complex that houses many museums and was once the palace of King Augustus the Strong of Saxony (1670-1733).

While many of the other museums within the Zwinger complex house iconic paintings, such as the Gemäldegalerie which has Raphael’s Sistine Madonna, the Green Vault contains one the largest treasure collections in the world.

The thieves started a fire, cutting the power supply to the surrounding streets outside the museum, before entering at dawn.

However, the Green Vault has its own electricity system, so both the alarms and security cameras continued to function, although this did not prevent the robbers from completing the operation.

The cameras did not record the entry of two of the thieves into the building as they used a window that was in a blind spot.

Footage of them entering the room where the jewels were kept in cabinets also showed the men breaking safety glass panels with an ax.

Museum security alerted the police of the robbery at 4:59 am, by which point the men had left the premises after covering their tracks with foam from a fire extinguisher.

At the time of the robbery, museum officials said the approximately 100 stolen objects – such as buttons, buckles, hat ornaments, medals, cane handles and other diamond-encrusted ornaments – were “priceless”.

At the time of the robbery, Marion Ackermann, the director of the Dresden State Art Collections, said that it was impossible to describe the material value of the stolen artifacts because of their huge historical significance.

Part of their enormous value lies in the fact that they have been preserved as whole objects and many experts feared the thieves would try to recut the diamonds or break the pieces down to sell them.

Some of the stolen items, including one containing the largest diamond in the collection, are still missing.

The suspects were arrested during a series of raids in Berlin in November 2020.

The accused remained silent until late 2022 when a large portion of the stolen goods was returned after a plea bargain.

By the end of the process, 18 of the 21 stolen boxes were returned, some of them damaged and without all of their contents.EFE

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