Europe

Arrests over $50m Belgium airport diamond heist

Burnt out van
Image caption The wrecked van used by the gang was found near the scene

Police in Belgium, Switzerland and France have arrested 31 people in connection with one of the world's largest robberies of diamonds.

Belgian prosecutors say they have recovered large sums of money and some of the diamonds that were taken in a raid at Brussels airport in February.

A gang cut through the airport's perimeter fence and broke into the cargo hold of a Swiss aeroplane as it waited for take off.

They took $50m (£32m) of diamonds.

The diamonds were "rough stones" being transported from Antwerp to Zurich.

Prosecutors described the thieves as "professionals".

They had dressed as police, wore masks and were well armed.

They forced their way through security barriers and drove towards the Helvetic Airways plane, forcing open the cargo hold to reach gems that had already been loaded.

They snatched 120 packages before escaping through the same hole in the fence.

Prosecutors said the whole operation took only about five minutes, no shots were fired and no-one was hurt.

One suspect was arrested in France and six in Switzerland on Tuesday, Belgian prosecutors said.

The other 24 were rounded up near Brussels early on Wednesday.

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