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Five men convicted for audacious $123M jewels heist in Dresden

<i>Sebastian Kahnert/Pool/AFP/Getty Images</i><br/>A defendant is brought to the courtroom on May 16
Sebastian Kahnert/Pool/AFP/Getty Images
A defendant is brought to the courtroom on May 16

By Stephanie Halasz, Ivana Kottasová and Inke Kappeler, CNN

(CNN) — Five men have been sentenced to several years in prison for their role in a $123 million heist that captured the world’s attention for its brazenness, public broadcaster MDR reported Tuesday.

Four of the defendants received lighter sentences because they had partially confessed and some treasures were returned, Andreas Feron, a spokesperson at Dresden’s Regional Court, told CNN.

A sixth defendant was acquitted.

The gang broke into the historic Green Vault in Dresden on November 25, 2019. CCTV camera footage showed two masked thieves smashing the glass and grabbing 21 diamond-studded artifacts.

The vault featured an astounding collection of historical jewelry and precious ornaments – from shimmering bowls carved out of crystal and agate to jeweled figurines and goblets fashioned from gilded ostrich eggs.

One of the most famous pieces of the collection, a 41-carat green diamond known as the Dresden Green, was not in the museum at the time, being on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Footage released by Saxony Police showed two people wearing dark clothes, moving quickly though the gallery using flashlights. One of them then uses an ax to break the glass – the video shows it takes the perpetrator at least nine hits before the glass breaks. A nearby electrical fire knocked out street lights in the area at around the time of the robbery.

In just a few minutes, some of the world’s most valuable historic jewels had vanished. Only some of the loot has since been recovered.

The director of Dresden’s State Art Collection, Marion Ackermann, said their material value doesn’t even begin to reflect their “incalculable” historical and cultural importance.

Nearly all the stolen artifacts were made during the rule of Frederick Augustus III, the last Elector of Saxony, who was later known as Frederick Augustus I, the first King of Saxony.

They included a 1780s hat clasp decorated with 15 large and more than 100 small diamonds, as well as a 96-centimeter (38-inch) sword and a scabbard, or sheath, which together contained more than 800 diamonds.

Light sentences

The judges of Dresden’s Regional Court imposed multi-year prison sentences on the five defendants who were convicted.

The defendants are all part of the infamous Remmo clan, one of Germany’s most powerful crime families, which operates mostly in Berlin.

Rabieh Remmo, one of the main perpetrators, will serve six years and two months in prison, the court spokesperson said. His accomplice, Wissam Remmo, received six years and three months while Bashir Remmo was sentenced to five years and 10 months. Another person was sentenced to four years and four months in prison under the Juvenile Criminal Code.

The four defendants had made confessions and returned part of the loot. A fifth defendant was sentenced to five years in juvenile detention – with the inclusion of an earlier conviction. The 24-year-old denied his involvement in the burglary until the very end. He claimed to have participated in obtaining tools used to commit the crime, such as the axes.

The five defendants said they do not know where the missing jewels are, the court spokesperson added.

In December 2022, Saxony Police said they were investigating a seventh possible participant in the heist.

“Based on the evaluation of recordings from the video surveillance system in the Historisches Grünes Gewölbe, there is initial suspicion that the person pictured helped prepare the burglary by spying on the scene of the crime between 10:03 a.m. and 12:21 p.m. on the day before the crime and making the knowledge gained available to those directly involved in the crime,” the police said in a statement at the time.

“The wanted person was in the jewel room for an extended period of time and on several occasions on November 24, 2019. Her behavior was strikingly different from that of an average museum visitor.”

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