Belgium says 31 detained in $50m diamond heist

  • Associated Press
  • May 8, 2013 - 5:39 AM

BRUSSELS - Police carried out a series of raids in Belgium and detained 31 people in three countries in connection with a spectacular $50 million diamond heist pulled off with apparent clockwork precision at Brussels Airport, a Belgian prosecutor said Wednesday.

One person was detained in France, six in Switzerland and 24 in Belgium in connection with the Feb. 18 robbery, prosecutor Anja Bijnens said at a news conference in Brussels.

In addition, money and diamonds connected with the heist have been recovered — the money in Belgium and the diamonds in Switzerland — Bijnens said. She did not specify the amounts.

The diamonds had been loaded on a plane bound for Zurich when robbers, dressed in dark police clothing and hoods, drove through a hole they had cut in the airport fence in two black cars with blue police lights flashing. They drove onto the tarmac, approached the plane, brandished machine guns, offloaded the diamonds, then made what seemed at the time to be a clean getaway.

At the time, Bijnens estimated that the entire operation took five minutes.

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