Six men have gone on trial in Germany over the spectacular theft of 18th-century jewels from a museum in Dresden.
An estimated 4,300 gems — worth more than €113 million — were stolen during the high-profile heist in November 2019.
The total of 21 items taken from Dresden’s Green Vault Museum have never been recovered. Culture ministry officials say the jewels have “inestimable material value”.
Six defendants — aged 22 to 28 — appeared before a regional court in the eastern German city on Friday accused of gang robbery and arson. They each face up to 10 years in prison.
In their opening statement, prosecutors said the suspects were members of an organised crime family known as the “Remmo clan”.
The suspects reportedly planned their crime “meticulously” and had been armed during the robbery.
The Green Vault (Gruenes Geweolbe) — established in 1723 — is one of the world’s oldest museums and contains the treasury of Augustus the Strong of Saxony.
Items on display include around 4,000 objects in gold, precious stones and other materials.
The head of Saxony’s State Art Collection in Dresden has expressed hope international attention surrounding the treasures would make it harder for the stolen jewels to be sold.
German police even offered €500,000 euros as a reward for anyone who could give information on the case.
Two of the men on trial were convicted in 2020 for stealing a 100-kilogram Canadian gold coin dubbed the “Big Maple Leaf” from Berlin’s Bode Museum in 2017.
The coin — with an estimated value of €3.75 million — also has not been recovered and authorities suspect that it was likely cut up into smaller pieces and sold.
The trial in Dresden is expected to continue until October.