Seventh suspect arrested in German museum jewel robbery case

Man detained after turning up to courtroom for trial of six already accused of role in $120m Green Vault burglary

Dresden Castle, which houses the museum and Green Vault where the robbery took place in in November 2019. AFP
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A seventh suspect in a spectacular German museum robbery has been arrested at the trial of his six alleged accomplices, police said on Tuesday.

The man, identified by police as Jihad R, was detained at Dresden’s regional court, where the trial of six people accused of the Green Vault burglary is taking place.

Thieves stole 21 pieces of jewellery and a diamond-encrusted sword in a haul estimated to be worth at least €113.8 million ($120m), from the vault inside Dresden’s Royal Palace museum.

All of those on trial are members of the so-called Remmo clan, an extended family known for extensive ties to organised crime in Germany.

Police on Tuesday said: “The 22-year-old Jihad R was arrested this afternoon by officers of the Dresden police on the sidelines of the trial before the regional court, where he was attending as a visitor."

They said the suspect's car and flat in Berlin were had been searched.

Authorities believe the gang carried out the brazen, night-time raid on the Green Vault in November 2019.

Alleged members of a criminal gang are on trial in Germany over the Green Vault burglary. AFP

None of the jewels, have been recovered, nor the sword which had a diamond-encrusted hilt and a shoulder piece containing the famous 49-carat Dresden white diamond.

Jihad R is accused of abetting aggravated gang robbery and arson and was allegedly involved in the “entire planning and execution” of the robbery plot, prosecutors said.

At the trial, which began in January, prosecutor Christian Weber said the suspects had stolen “unique and irreplaceable treasures … of outstanding cultural and historical significance”.

Insurance experts say the loot, which originally belonged to the former monarchs of Saxony, is worth at least €113.8m.

It was the latest in a string of eye-catching crimes linked to the Remmos, which saw some of its members convicted in 2020 over the theft of a large gold coin from a Berlin museum.

Two of the suspects in the Dresden case are still serving juvenile sentences for involvement in stealing the gold coin, which has also never been found.

In 2015, Toufic Remmo was convicted and sentenced to eight years in jail after a gang poured petrol in a bank to cover any traces of a robbery and lit a fire, causing an explosion which nearly destroyed the entire building.

The family, which originates in Lebanon and south-east Turkey, arrived in West Germany in the 1980s during the Lebanese civil war.

Most of the stolen items belonged to the Saxon electors Augustus the Strong and Augustus III, who were also kings of what was then Poland and established Dresden as a cultural centre.

The kings competed with French monarch Louis XIV to assemble the most extravagant jewellery collection in Europe at the time.

Updated: June 07, 2022, 5:10 AM