Police have detained 17 people over the heist of $50 million in diamonds in February - one of the biggest jewelry robberies in history - after coordinated raids in Belgium, France and Switzerland, Belgian prosecutors said on Wednesday.
More than 300 police were involved in the Belgian operations near Brussels which led to 10 people being detained, a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor said. One suspect was held in France and the rest in Switzerland.
armed and dressed as police, the robbers stole 120 parcels of diamonds
from the runway of Brussels airport without firing a shot. The suspect
detained in France was believed to be a member of the gang of eight who carried out the heist.
the only person that we can say at this stage that could have
participated in the events on the tarmac," said Jean-Marc Meilleur, the
"As for the
others, we still need to investigate to find out whether they are
intermediaries or if they are people who participated directly."
Belgian authorities have asked for the French suspect to be extradited.
24 people were rounded up in the Belgian raids, all aged between 30 and
35 years old, and late on Wednesday a Brussels judge decided to keep 10
of them in custody, the prosecution spokesman said.
Under Belgian law, a judge must decide within 24 hours whether to release a person.
in Geneva said they had questioned eight people after raids there and
had subsequently released six of them, leaving two under investigation.
Those figures differed slightly from the details provided by Belgian
Among those seized in
Geneva were a businessman and a lawyer, while around 100,000 Swiss
Francs ($106,200) in cash and a number of diamonds were recovered, the
police there said. In Belgium, the raids recovered cash and luxury cars,
the prosecutor's spokesman said.