In 2020, diamonds were stolen from the Green Vault in Dresden. Now the trial against members of a family clan begins.
The large-scale operation of the Saxon police in Berlin in November 2020 was top secret. 1,600 police officers from eight federal states arrived in the capital late at night, many armed with submachine guns, as well as special task forces (SEK). At 6 a.m., police raided homes and searched cafes, garages and cars. The goal: members of the extended family R.
Three young men were arrested, and other suspects from the clan were later caught. The six suspects are brothers or cousins. The police assume that the six men known to the police committed one of the most spectacular coups in recent years: the burglary of the Dresden Green Vault Museum and the theft of diamond jewelery worth millions. Particularly spicy: Two of the men were already convicted in February 2020 for stealing a 100-kilogram gold coin from Berlin’s Bode Museum.
The accused have 14 defense attorneys from all over the Federal Republic
In Dresden, on the morning of November 25, 2019, two burglars broke into the museum rooms in the Residenzschloss. The perpetrators had previously set fire to a power distribution box and severed thick bars. They smashed a display case with an ax and stole 21 pieces of jewelry containing more than 4,300 diamonds. They set fire to the first getaway car in an underground car park. They escaped in a second car. The insured value of the loot is 113 million euros, the sales value is significantly lower, but still in the millions.
On Friday (January 28) the process against six suspects from the Berlin R. clan. The charges are aggravated gang theft and particularly aggravated arson. Dozens of witnesses are to be heard. The clan members have summoned 14 defenders from half of Germany. Inquiries to the lawyers as to whether the accused would like to comment on the allegations were not answered. In addition, the police are investigating 40 other suspects for aiding and abetting, receiving stolen goods and obstructing criminal prosecution. This includes security guards from the museum and possible accomplices and supporters in Berlin.
Shortly after the burglary, many eyes turned to Berlin. Berlin’s police chief Barbara Slowik said: “The parallels to the robbery in KaDeWe and the burglary in the Bode Museum are easy to see, you don’t have to be a criminologist for that.” The special commission “Epaulette” of the Saxon LKA, named after a piece of loot, secured DNA traces from the crime scene and from cars that led to several previously convicted members of the well-known clan.
Also read about this
The extended R. family is one of several clans of Arabic origin who live mainly in Berlin, Bremen and the Ruhr area, but it is a very conspicuous one. Members of the Arab Mhallami tribe migrated from the 20th century Turkey out to Lebanon. They came to Germany in the 1980s. Without a work permit, many families lived on welfare. Through marriages within the family, they quickly grew to several hundred members.
The clan’s list of crimes is long
State and laws are not recognised. “The extended family is everything and the rest is nothing,” wrote Islamic scholar Mathias Rohe. For some members, theft and drug dealing became the main sources of income. The judiciary speaks of a “high number” of investigations over the years. The list of known crimes committed by members of a clan is long:
In 2014, several perpetrators broke into a savings bank in Berlin-Mariendorf and stole more than nine million euros worth of loot from the lockers. A perpetrator from the extended family R. is convicted.
In 2017, four men stole the million-dollar gold coin from the Bode Museum. Three perpetrators are convicted, two of them from the R. clan.
In 2018, the public prosecutor’s office confiscated 77 apartments and houses, which they assigned to the R. clan. Among them is the villa where a head of the family lives. A son who was living on Hartz IV had bought it. The money for this should come from the Sparkasse burglary.
In 2019, two burglars steal a piece of art in the form of a gold nest from a school. A young man from the R family is convicted.
In 2020, clan members and Chechens are at war. A 44-year-old from the R. family is convicted. He was transferred by an electronic ankle bracelet, which he had to wear.
In 2021, five men attacked a money transporter on Ku’damm and stole 650,000 euros. A man from the R. clan, brother of a defendant in Dresden, is convicted.
Also in 2021, several perpetrators break into a Sparkasse near Hamburg. According to the media, the loot from 600 lockers: eleven million euros. A man from the R. clan is arrested in Berlin.
Many crimes are never fully cleared up
In many of these crimes, the police caught only some of the perpetrators, others were never found. The same goes for the loot. Other crimes, such as a burglary in the luxury department store KaDeWe in 2009, which the police assign to the clan milieu, are not solved at all. Members of other clans were sentenced for the attack on KaDeWe in 2014, but the loot was lost here too.
The clarification of many crimes is extremely difficult. Clan members do not rat on each other. Anyone who cooperates with the state is considered a traitor and loses their family. Bribes and threats are used to silence witnesses, prosecutors say. The police almost never succeed in infiltrating undercover investigators. From time to time only DNA traces bring the police further.
The dropout Khalil O., a former drug dealer, wrote that not all of the hundreds of clan members are criminals. In 80 percent of extended families there are people involved with drugs, burglaries or protection money. But for every 100 family members, there are 10 active criminals and 10 more in prison.
The police in Dresden emphasized that they are not giving up hope of getting the diamonds back. In Saxony, a reward of 500,000 euros has been set aside, in Berlin art lovers have made a million euros available. However, the experience of the police shows that the most important thing for the perpetrators is to convert gold, watches or jewelery into cash quickly. There are numerous channels that lead to Lebanon, Turkey or Eastern Europe. The earlier deeds show clearly: the booty usually remains gone. (dpa)
Also listen to our podcast episode about the (un)just life in German prisons: