Three gang members admit roles in €113m Dresden jewel heist | Germany

Three members of a notorious criminal gang have confessed to stealing priceless 18th-century jewels from a German state museum at their trial in Dresden.

Rabieh Remmo, one of six defendants, told the regional court in the eastern city that he and an unnamed accomplice broke into the Green Vault in a brazen night-time raid in November 2019.

In a statement agreed as part of a sentencing deal, he said they smashed the glass of the display cases using an axe and jammed the jewellery into a sack they had brought with them. The accomplice then used a fire extinguisher to destroy any traces of their DNA.

The group, 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 Berlin.

“My contribution to the crime was larger than I first said,” said Remmo, who made a partial confession last year. “I was, myself, in the rooms of the Green Vault.”

Rabieh Remmo covers his face in court. Photograph: Reuters

Two fellow accused, Wissam and Mohamed Remmo, also told the court they had taken part in the heist, in statements read by their lawyers. However, they said they had not been inside the museum but rather stood watch and took receipt of the stolen goods, as well as the tools used in the break-in.

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”.

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

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

A composite image of some of the items stolen in the raid
A composite image of some of the items stolen in the raid. Photograph: Juergen Karpinski/AP

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

Last week, the court recommended jail sentences of several years for stealing the jewellery worth at least €113.8m. German media called it the biggest art heist in modern history.

The judges proposed prison time ranging from four years and nine months to six years and nine months as part of the arrangement with the lawyers that led to some of the stolen valuables being 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 recovered pieces are badly damaged.

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

“I didn’t keep the loot – I didn’t have access to it. I don’t know what happened to it,” Rabieh Remmo said on Tuesday. “I did all I could to ensure that what was left came back to Dresden.”

The men on trial are members of the so-called Remmo clan, an extended family known for ties to organised crime in Germany. A further 40 people are still wanted and believed to have been involved in the heist.

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