BRUSSELS — 5 years after a brazen multimillion-dollar diamond heist on the tarmac of Brussels Airport, a Belgian courtroom on Thursday cited a scarcity of proof because it acquitted 18 suspects within the case.
The large 2013 theft, wherein tens of hundreds of thousands price of gems had been stolen from the maintain of a departing Swiss-bound airplane, had all of the hallmarks of an “Ocean’s Eleven” operation. And it nonetheless would possibly nonetheless get a Hollywood ending.
One different particular person, suspected of being the mastermind, will hear his case in courtroom later.
“It’s a nice consequence,” stated defence lawyer Nathalie Gallant. “The tribunal is not directly saying that we had been proper and that the case shouldn’t be enough to sentence anybody.”
Dimitri de Beco, the lawyer for the lone different suspect, stated he was “fairly positive the identical will apply to my shopper as properly,” arguing the case was not sturdy sufficient.
It was not a full victory but since Thursday’s choice can nonetheless be appealed.
The diamond heist was estimated at $50 million on the time and was one of many largest of latest instances. It shocked the world with its clockwork precision. Many in contrast it to the plot of the 2001 Vegas heist film, “Ocean’s Eleven,” which stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, for its clinically clear execution.
Within the Feb. 18, 2013 heist, a number of parcels of diamonds had been pushed from the worldwide diamond centre of Antwerp and had been loaded on a airplane certain for Zurich when robbers, wearing darkish police clothes and hoods, drove by way of a gap they’d minimize within the airport fence in two black vehicles with blue police lights flashing.
They approached the airplane, brandished machine-guns, off-loaded the diamonds after which left, all in precisely 5 minutes. Later that night time, investigators discovered the charred stays of a van used within the heist.
Three months later, authorities detained a number of dozen folks in a three-nation sweep and recovered among the diamonds.
The courtroom case in Brussels was imagined to deliver closure to the case, but with the acquittals, it has opened it up once more, additional including to the thriller.
“They made a really huge sweep. They centered on some well-known names,” stated Gallant, who claimed the investigators “labored with blinkers” on.
She stated the verdicts weren’t a shock to these within the courtroom.
“Have you ever seen how not one of the attorneys had been stunned? Did you see any signal of shock within the courtroom room? No,” she stated. “With such a case, it was not potential for a tribunal as competent as this one to sentence anybody.”