Suspects in German museum heist face lengthy sentences

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In this file photo taken on April 9, 2019 shows the White Silver Room (Weißsilberzimmer), one of the rooms in the historic Green Vault (Gruenes Gewoelbe) at the Royal Palace in Dresden, eastern Germany. Photo by Sebastian Kahnert / dpa / AFP

A German court on Tuesday recommended jail sentences of several years for six members of a notorious criminal gang suspected of stealing priceless 18th-century jewels from a state museum.

Insurance experts had said the loot was worth at least 113.8 million euros ($120 million at the current rate), with German media dubbing it the biggest art heist in modern history.

Judges at the regional court in the eastern city of Dresden proposed sentences ranging from four years and nine months to six years and nine months for five of the men, with a sixth able to provide an alibi.

The sentencing, which has yet to be finalised, follows discussions between the prosecution and defence lawyers that led to part of the loot being recovered in mid-December.

The six men are on trial over a brazen night-time raid on Dresden’s Green Vault museum in November 2019.

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.

There had been no trace of the jewels until last month, when authorities said they had recovered a “considerable portion” of the items following “exploratory talks” with the suspects.

However, some of the pieces are still missing, including including a brooch that belonged to Queen Amalie Auguste of Saxony.

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

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

Some 40 people are still wanted and believed to be involved in the audacious heist. ©AFP