Police have arrested 31 people in three countries over a spectacular £30 million airport diamond robbery at Brussels airport in February that was pulled off with clockwork precision.
A Frenchman who is believed to have been one of the robbers was detained in France, while six people were detained in Switzerland and 24 in Belgium
The diamonds had been loaded on a plane bound for Zurich when robbers drove through a hole in the airport fence, approached the plane, brandished guns, unloaded the diamonds, then made their getaway.
Police say they have proof that diamonds found were part of the cache that was stolen. "In Switzerland, we have found diamonds that we can already say are coming from the heist, and in Belgium large amounts of money have been found. And the investigation is still ongoing," said a spokesman for the Brussels prosecutor's office.
It is the first breakthrough in a robbery that many had started comparing to an "Ocean's Eleven"-type Hollywood script for its clinical execution during which no one was injured.
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, took the diamonds, then left in an operation that barely took five minutes. Later that night, investigators found the charred remains of a van most likely used in the raid, but little else.
The stolen parcels contained both rough and polished stones.
Belgian authorities said that about 10 of the 24 people detained in Belgium were known criminals. The suspects ranged in age from 30 to 50, they said.