Five men from Remmo crime gang convicted over German jewel heist

Members of clan operating in Berlin underworld carried out 2019 Green Vault raid

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A German court on Tuesday convicted five members of the Remmo crime family over the spectacular heist of priceless 18th-century jewels three years ago.

Members of the clan, which has roots in Lebanon, received sentences between four and six years in prison.

Some of the defendants had admitted their part in the raid on Dresden's Green Vault in November 2019, in a plea deal that saw some of the loot recovered.

The young men aged between 24 and 29 were charged with armed theft, damage to property and two counts of arson.

A sixth defendant was found not guilty.

The Remmo gang is one of the most notorious of Germany's crime clans and has been linked to a string of high-profile thefts and bank robberies.

Two of the accused in Dresden, Wissam and Ahmed Remmo, were previously convicted of the theft of a giant gold coin from a Berlin museum in 2017.

The coin known as Big Maple Leaf was valued at 3.75 million euros and has never been found.

Police followed the trail to the Berlin underworld after the break-in 200 kilometres away in Dresden.

Gang member Rabieh Remmo admitted in January that the thieves had smashed the Green Vault's glass display cases with an axe.

He said they filled a sack with jewellery from the museum and used a fire extinguisher in an attempt to cover their DNA trail.

Prosecutors said the robbers cut power to the museum and broke in through a window before fleeing in a car that they set on fire in an underground car park.

The theft of the Saxon royal treasures was described as one of the biggest art heists in history.

The insurance value of the stolen jewels was at least 114 million euros ($124 million), while museum experts described them as culturally and historically priceless.

The collection was assembled by Saxon rulers who who commissioned ever more brilliant jewellery in a rivalry with France's King Louis XIV.

Dresden museum theft - in pictures

A portion of the loot was recovered in December after talks between prosecutors and defence lawyers.

Authorities said the 31 recovered items included one of the most prized goods, an 18th-century medal from Poland's Order of the White Eagle.

However, many treasured pieces are still missing.

An investigation into four museum guards was closed last year after no contacts between them and the suspects could be established.

Police separately arrested a Dutchman who allegedly duped authorities into giving him 40,000 euros to recover some of the loot.

The man had claimed he could buy back some of the items but ran away with the money, prosecutors allege.

Updated: May 16, 2023, 11:31 PM