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15 April 2024

Dutchmen in court over $72m diamond heist


Five Dutchmen appeared in court Wednesday in connection with one of the world's largest-ever diamond heists from Amsterdam's airport 12 years ago, prosecutors said.

The men, aged between 42 and 55, all from Amsterdam were arrested in January on suspicion of involvement in the $72 million (66 million euros) robbery at Schiphol airport in 2005.

"A judge will decide Thursday whether they will remain in custody," the Dutch public prosecution service said in a statement.

The suspects were arrested in January in Amsterdam and in Valencia, in eastern Spain, after police reopened their probe into the heist in 2013.

A vigilant police officer, while on a separate investigation at the time, overheard the heist being discussed during an intercepted telephone conversation.

The officer passed on the information to the Royal Marechaussee, the paramilitary police responsible for airport and border safety.

Police also discovered another link when one of the suspects allegedly admitted his involvement in the February 2005 robbery to undercover police, the statement said.

A sixth suspect is on the run and presumably outside the country, the statement said.

The suspects will appear again in court on July 20.

Robbers held up a KLM armoured car in Schiphol's high-security area before plundering it of diamonds and jewellery.

Though the thieves were armed, no one was hurt in the heist.

While some of the stolen diamonds were found in an escape vehicle immediately after the heist, the rest - valued at $43 million - remain unaccounted for.

Four people were initially arrested soon after the incident, one of The Netherlands' worst cases of robbery.