Five members of a criminal gang have been sentenced to six years in prison for the notorious theft of a trove of 18th-century jewelry from Dresden’s Royal Palace.
The group, which had previously committed a string of high-profile heists, broke into the palace’s Grünes Gewölbe, or Green Vault, in an audacious nighttime heist in November 2019. They were sentenced on charges of armed robbery, aggravated arson, and grievous bodily harm, according to the Dresden prosecutor’s office.
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Two of the defendants, who were minors during the heist, were handed juvenile sentences of five years, and four years and four months. Around 40 suspected accomplices to the crime are still wanted by authorities.
The convicted men belong to the “Remmo clan,” an extended family based in Berlin and wanted for numerous ties to organized crime. This past January, defendant Rabieh Remmo told police how the men entered Jewel Room, one of 10 rooms in the vault, through damaged bars on a window. The room held a collection of 3,000 artifacts assembled by August the Strong, an 18th-century prince-elector of the German state of Saxony, as well as a monarch of Poland and Lithuania.
The thieves smashed the glass in the display cases using an axe, pocketed 21 pieces of jewelry, and fled within five minutes. The looted Saxon royal artifacts contain more than 4,300 diamonds and is collectively valued at €114 million (about $124 million).
“I don’t have to tell you how shocked we are by the brutality of this break-in,” Marion Ackermann, general director of the consortium of cultural institutions known as the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, said in a public address shortly after the theft was uncovered. “As you know, the historical and cultural value of this is immeasurable.”
Dresden police have since recovered a “considerable portion” of the historic pieces amid “exploratory talks” with the defendants about a potential plea deal. Some artifacts were found damaged, while others remain missing. In a statement, the presiding judge Andreas Ziegel bemoaned the theft of “one of the oldest and richest treasure collections in the world.”