Diamond heist at the airport: 18 of 19 accused off the hook

18 of the 19 accused after a spectacular diamond robbery at Zaventem have been let off the hook by the Brussels criminal court. Judges cited a lack of evidence. The facts took place in 2013, with thieves getting hold of 37 million euros' worth of diamonds in a spectacular action on the Zaventem tarmac that took just 5 minutes.

The robbery took place on 18 February 2013. After a hole had been made in the fence around the airport premises, two cars drove onto the tarmac at high speed, stopping at an aircraft of Swiss which was about to leave the terminal. 8 armed men wearing masks and heavy guns threatened staff to force them to hand over 120 packages from the cargo, which contained diamonds. They next drove back, using the same hole in the fence to escape. This all took just 5 minutes.

The accused included 16 men and 3 women. They were arrested after Belgian detectives cooperated with colleagues from Switzerland, Luxembourg, Morocco and France. The investigation took years, and boasted some 40 house raids. Nearly all suspects simply denied being involved in the robbery, with 18 of them being acquitted now, due to a lack of evidence.

Sven Mary, the lawyer of one of the accused, said "I found the evidence presented by the public prosecutor weak from the start. It's a spectacular case, but the investigation was difficult and lacks coherence, I think." However, this is not the end of the story: the public prosecutor is poised to appeal against the decision.