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CRIME

Six Germans charged over spectacular Dresden museum heist

German prosecutors said they have charged six men over a spectacular heist in 2019 when more than a dozen diamond-encrusted artefacts worth over 100 million euros were snatched from a state museum.

Six Germans charged over spectacular Dresden museum heist
A forensic expert searches the area within a police cordon in front of the Royal Palace that houses the historic Green Vault (Gruenes Gewoelbe) in Dresden, eastern Germany, after the 2019 robbery. Photo: SEBASTIAN KAHNERT / DPA / AFP

The suspects, all German nationals aged between 22 and 27 years old, are accused of aggravated gang robbery and aggravated arson.

Two among them had previously been convicted for stealing in 2017 a 100-kilogramme (220-pound) gold coin from Berlin’s Bode Museum — another robbery that shook up Germany.

Armed with a loaded revolver and an automatic-loading gun with a silencer, the men allegedly broke into the Green Vault museum in Dresden in the early hours of November 25th, 2019, making away with 21 pieces of jewellery encrusted with more than 4,300 diamonds.

The insured value of the pieces reached €113.8 million ($135 million), prosecutors said in a statement.

None of the stolen items have been recovered.

The suspects are believed to have started a fire to cut off the power supply for street lighting around the museum just before the burglary.

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And as they were making their getaway to Berlin, they allegedly set fire to an Audi S6 in an underground carpark, leaving a total of 61 vehicles damaged.

The property damages are estimated at more than a million euros.

Clan link

Investigators are still searching for the stolen objects, prosecutors revealed.

Dresden’s Royal Palace, which runs the museum, had said the items taken were priceless 18th-century jewellery and other valuables from the collection of the Saxon ruler August the Strong.

They included a sword whose hilt is encrusted with nine large and 770 smaller diamonds, and a shoulderpiece which contains the famous 49-carat Dresden white diamond, Dresden’s Royal Palace said.

Prosecutors did not name the suspects.

But during their manhunt, police had confirmed they are members of the so-called “Remmo clan”, a family of Arab origin notorious for ties to organised crime.

In recent years, such “clans” of primarily Middle Eastern origin have become a particular focus for police in Berlin.

READ ALSO: Berlin and Hamburg police raid ‘organised crime’ hubs

At a separate trial in Berlin Thursday, another member of the Remmo family confessed to the robbery of an armoured money carrier in the German capital.

Together with four other suspects, Muhamed Remmo, 31, had dressed up as a trash collector for the heist outside a bank branch in western Berlin’s shopping avenue Kurfuerstendamm.

He threatened security guards with a blank pistol and sprayed teargas at them while his accomplices loaded their getaway car with more than €600,000 in cash. 


Three men were sentenced to several years in prison for stealing an enormous Canadian coin from the Bode Museum, Berlin, in March 2017 – but the coin has not yet been recovered. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Paul Zinken

Investigators in 2019 targeted the Remmos with the seizure of 77 properties worth a total of €9.3 million, charging that they were purchased with the proceeds of various crimes, including a 2014 bank robbery.

Police have also found no trace of the Canadian coin taken in the March 2017 robbery at the Bode Museum, located close to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Berlin apartment.

The “Big Maple Leaf”, one of five minted in 2007, is considered the world’s second-largest gold coin after the one-tonne Australian Kangaroo issued in 2012.

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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