Three admit to Green Vault museum heist and stealing 18th-century jewels

Stolen items worth more than €113 million included a sword with diamond-encrusted hilt

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Three members of a criminal gang have admitted in court to playing roles in a spectacular heist in which items worth more than €113 million were stolen from the Green Vault state museum in Dresden, Germany.

The men on trial are members of the Remmo clan, an extended family known for ties to organised crime in Germany.

Rabieh Remmo, 29, said that he and an unnamed accomplice had broken into the museum and stolen the 18th century jewels.

He said they had smashed glass display cases “with an axe” and filled a sack with jewellery, including a diamond-encrusted sword, from the museum.

“My contribution to the crime was larger than I first said,” he admitted on Tuesday, after a partial confession last year. “I was, myself, in the rooms of the Green Vault.

“I didn't keep the loot — I didn't have access to it. I don't know what happened to it.

“I did all I could to ensure that what was left came back to Dresden.”

The accomplice used a fire extinguisher to destroy any traces of DNA, he added.

The admissions are part of a sentencing deal being offered to six people charged with roles in the Green Vault raid.

Wissam Remmo and Mohamed Remmo told the court in Dresden that they had taken part in the daring November 2019 heist but had not entered the museum itself, instead standing watch and helping to move the stolen goods after the break-in.

The gang, which had cased the museum on two previous trips, fled in a getaway car to a parking garage, where they set fire to the vehicle to cover their tracks before returning to their homes in Berlin.

They said the idea was hatched after a younger acquaintance “came back from a field trip to the Green Vault in Dresden raving about the green diamonds on display there”.

Rabieh Remmo, right, has admitted that he was inside the Green Vault museum during the raid. EPA

A fourth defendant said he would issue a statement at the next hearing on Friday as part of a deal arranged between the defence and prosecution lawyers.

In exchange for their confessions and the return of most of the precious jewels, the defendants are to receive more lenient sentences.

A fifth defendant has rejected the deal and the sixth has told the judges he has an alibi for the day of the heist.

About 40 people believed to have been involved in the heist are still at large.

Last week, the court recommended jail sentences of several years for stealing the loot worth about €113.8 million ($123.1).

Judges have proposed prison time ranging from four years and nine months to six years and nine months as part of the arrangement.

Some of the stolen valuables were recovered from a river in mid-December.

The thieves grabbed 21 pieces of jewellery and other valuables from the collection of the Saxon ruler Augustus the Strong, encrusted with more than 4,300 individual diamonds.

Some of the pieces are still missing, including a brooch that belonged to Queen Amalie Auguste of Saxony, while many of the pieces have been badly damaged.

The stolen loot included a sword with a diamond-encrusted hilt and a shoulder piece that contains the famous 49-carat Dresden white diamond.

Updated: January 17, 2023, 4:24 PM