Two more ‘Pink Panthers’ face robbery charges

Two more 'Pink Panthers' face robbery charges
The Beau-Rivage Palace hotel in Lausanne, victim of a 2010 jewellery heist. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Wofratz
Two more alleged members of the "Pink Panthers" gang of international jewel thieves are to face trial in Switzerland for heists there, AFP reported on Tuesday, citing Swiss police sources.

One of the two, a 34-year-old Serbian arrested in Turkey on an international warrant, will be extradited to Switzerland to stand trial, Schaffhausen cantonal police said in a statement.

He is accused of the armed robbery of a watch and jewellery store in the city of Schaffhausen in March 2011.

The haul of 150 watches and 66 pieces of jewellery, worth around 1.8 million Swiss francs ($1.96 million) has never been recovered.

A total of five individuals were believed involved in the robbery, police said.

A second Serb, aged 37, was arrested in Montenegro and extradited to Switzerland last year.

He allegedly acted as the getaway driver in both the Schaffhausen robbery and an April 2010 heist in the southwestern Swiss city of Lausanne.

The thieves in the Lausanne robbery made off with a loot of watches and jewellery from the Beau-Rivage Palace worth 500,000 francs ($545,000), which has also never been found.

The arrest of the suspects follows four- and five-year jail sentences handed to two other alleged members of the Pink Panthers by a Geneva court for their role in the holdup of a jewellery shop in Lucerne in March 2012.

The pair were convicted for stealing 78 watches worth 1.3 million francs.

All but one of the watches was recovered.

Members of the Pink Panthers were drawn from paramilitary circles in the former Yugoslavia.

The gang was given its name after British detectives found a diamond ring hidden in a jar of face cream, echoing an incident in Peter Sellers' 1963 comedy "The Pink Panther".

The smash-and-grab crime group is known to have stolen jewellery worth hundreds of millions of dollars in nearly 30 countries over the past decade.

Once seemingly untouchable, the gang has faced setbacks over recent years, with members arrested in a number of other countries including France, Greece,
Italy and Japan, as well as Switzerland.

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