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Dresden museum heist: Six men charged with stealing €113m worth of jewels in Germany

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By Euronews  with AP, AFP
Jewellery was stolen from Dresden’s Green Vault, one of the world’s oldest museum.
Jewellery was stolen from Dresden’s Green Vault, one of the world’s oldest museum.   -   Copyright  Sebastian Kahnert/dpa via AP, FILE

Six people have been charged in Germany over the 2019 theft of jewellery and artwork from a museum in Dresden.

Prosecutors announced on Thursday that they had charged six men with organised robbery and arson.

The suspects, aged between 22 and 27, are accused of breaking into the Green Vault museum (Grünes Gewölbe) in the eastern German city in November 2019.

At least 21 pieces of 18th-century jewellery, including more than 4,300 diamonds, were stolen in the heist. Investigators estimate that the haul had a total insured value of at least €113.8 million.

Searches have so far failed to find the missing jewels.

Prosecutors say the men set a fire just before the break-in to cut the power supply for street lights outside the museum. The suspects are also alleged to have set fire to a car in a nearby garage before fleeing to Berlin.

Prosecutors said that the men, who are all in custody, have not responded to the accusations against them.

Two of the suspects are already serving sentences for participating in the theft of 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, has also not been recovered. Authorities suspect that it was likely cut up into smaller pieces and sold off.

Dresden's state court will now decide whether to take the case against the six suspects to trial.

The Grünes Gewölbe, established in 1723, is one of the world’s oldest museums and contains the treasury of Augustus the Strong of Saxony, comprising around 4,000 objects of gold, precious stones and other materials.

The museum's management said the stolen jewels were "extremely important from the point of view of art and cultural history," according to prosecutors.