BERLIN (Reuters) – German police on Monday evening detained a man on suspicion of involvement in a 2019 jewel heist at a museum housing one of Europe’s greatest collections of treasures, the Dresden public prosecutor’s office said.
The 22 year-old man, identified as Abdul Majed R. under reporting rules, is the fifth and final suspect accused of stealing at least three sets of early 18th century jewellery from Dresden’s Gruenes Gewoelbe or Green Vault Museum, the prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.
The other four suspects were arrested last year, it said, adding that police were still looking for the stolen items.
Abdul Majed R. was arrested in an apartment in Berlin’s southern district of Neukoelln and was taken to Dresden on Monday. Police seized a mobile phone and clothes as part of the search.
Security camera footage showed two men breaking into the museum through a grilled window in the early hours of Nov. 25, 2019. Officers were on the scene five minutes after the alarm sounded, but the thieves escaped.
The stolen jewels, including diamonds and rubies, were worth up to 1 billion euros ($1.22 billion), Bild newspaper reported at the time, without giving a source.
The collection was brought together in the 18th century by Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and later King of Poland, who commissioned ever more brilliant jewellery as part of his rivalry with France’s King Louis XIV.
One of its best known treasures – the 41-carat Dresden “Green Diamond” – was away on loan at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art at the time of the break-in.
The treasures of the Green Vault survived Allied bombing raids in World War Two, only to be carted off as war booty by the Soviet Union. They were returned to Dresden, the historic capital of the state of Saxony, in 1958.
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(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa, editing by Estelle Shirbon)