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January 22, 2023

Four confessions to a museum burglary all started with a photo of the Green Diamond

This month, has proved an interesting month in the ongoing trial of six burglars, believed to be responsible for the theft of 18th-century jewels stolen from the Green Vault (Grünes Gewölbe in German) museum within the Dresden Castle in Saxony.  This week, four out of six members of the large Remmo family, brothers Wissam and Mohamed, and cousins Rabieh and Bashir Remmo entered formal confessions before the district court in Dresden, in hopes of receiving lighter sentences for their cooperation. 

Family members Abdul Majed and Ahmed Remmo have seemingly been exonerated by the confessions of the others. 

Family members who have confessed to active roles in the museum burglary, stated that they orchestrated the theft after Mohamed Remmo, twin brother to Abdul Majed Remmo, received a photo from an unnamed person who had visited the museum during a school outing. That photo was apparently of the Dresden Green Diamond. 

Set in a hat clasp, this dramatic 41-carat, 8.2 gram natural green diamond, from the mines of India, is the largest green diamond in the world.  Too well guarded, the team of would-be burglars turned their sights to other jewels which they believed would be easier to access.

Abdul Majed Remmo's role, had been stated as having been to gather supplies used for the theft, though his family members on trial downplayed his role, saying he performed inadequately, purchased inferior tools, and wasn't present on the day of the heist. 

After scouting the building in a lead up to the November 25th 2019 theft, Rabieh Remmo, caught on CCTV footage with a flashlight, entering the closed museum shortly before 5 a.m.  He admitted that he is the thief depicted in video footage and to smashing the display case, struck an estimated 56 times in less than 30 seconds.  Rabieh also admitted to filling a sack with €113.8m. worth of pieces from the Green Room's historic jewellery collection.

Pieces stolen during the theft include:

  • a Hutkrempe der Diamantrosengarnitur by Christian August and August Goffhelf Globig, Dresden, 1782-1789;
  • a Shoulder loop (epaulette) (diamond rose set) (part available) by 
  • Christian August Globig and August Gotthelf Globig. Dresden 1782-1789;
  • Christian August and August Gotthelf Globig's Sword (diamond rose), 1782-1789, inv. no. VIII 16 with a diamond-studded hilt containing nine large and 770 smaller diamonds as well as its scabbard;
  • the Jewel of the Polish Order of the White Eagle (diamond rose set) by Christian August and August Gotthelf Globig, Dresden, 1782-89
  • Breast Star of the Polish Order of the White Eagle (set of brilliants) Jean-Jacques Pallard. Geneva/Vienna between 1746 and 1749;
  • Queen Amalie Auguste's Great Pectoral Bow by Christian August Globig, Dresden 1782, 51 large and 611 small diamonds, silver;
  • Necklace of 177 Saxon River Pearls, obtained from Vogtland waters before 1734, lined up in 1805;
  • 10 Rock Buttons from the Diamond Rose Set (each preserved)
  • Jean Jacques Pallard, Geneva 1753, inv. no. VIII 9/1-10;
  • Two arched shoe buckles from the Diamond Rose Set, workshop of Christian August Globig, Dresden 1782-1789, inv. no. VIII 12/ a,b;
  • Large Diamond Rose (Diamond Rose Set)inventory no. VIII 15;
  • Piece of jewelery in the form of palmettes (set of diamonds)
  • Jean Jacques Pallard, Vienna, 1746-1746;
  • Epaulette with the so-called "Saxon White" from the diamond set
  • Franz Diespach; Christian August or August Gotthelf Globig; Jean-Jacques or André Jacques Pallard; 1782-1789;
  • Hat decoration, so-called heron tail from the diamond set
  • August Gotthelf Globig, Dresden between 1782 and 1807, inv. no. VIII 26; 
  • Part of a muff hook, workshop of Jean Jacques Pallard, Geneva/Vienna 1746 and 1749, inv. no. VIII 34;
  • Queen Amalie Auguste's diamond necklace (preserved in parts), 
  • Ignaz Konrad Plödterl, Dresden 1824, inv. no. VIII 38;
  • Aigrette for the hair in the shape of a sun by August Gotthelf Globig, Dresden, 1782-1807;
  • Aigrette for the hair in the shape of a crescent moon (The diamond jewelry and the pearls of the queens)
  • August Goffhelf Globig, Dresden, 1782-1807;

Wissam and Mohamed Remmo informed the court, through their lawyers, that they too were immediately involved in the heist. Wassim copped to having cut the bars on a window in the vault prior to the burglary and also to standing guard outside of the museum to receive the stolen items and tools used in the break-in.  Mohamed Remmo admitted, through his lawyer, to being outside the museum on the morning of the theft and to to receive the stolen items.

In a later than the others admission, Bashir Remmo, through his lawyers, told the court on Friday, that he had not been initially involved in the preparations for the burglary, but admitted to standing guard on the morning of the theft and to receiving the stolen items.

The thieves involved then made their getaway in an Audi A6 which they set fire to some four kilometers away from the palace in an underground car park, in Dresden-Pieschen, hoping by doing so, to any destroy evidence they may have theft behind.  They then proceeded back to Berlin in a Mercedes disguised as a taxi.

In an early Christmas present to Dresden, German authorities have been able to retrieve 31 of the jewellery pieces stolen in the 2019 robbery between December 16th and 17th.  Several of the most valuable pieces are still unaccounted for. 

Conservators testified during the trial that several of the recovered diamond-encrusted jewellery pieces had been broken and all bear traces of a whitish substance. This could be discharge residue from the fire extinguisher that the burglar discharged in an attempt to destroy traces of the team's DNA.  Some of the recovered diamonds also appear to have been damaged and it is believed that they were submerged in water for an extended period of time.

All of these confessions were spurred by efforts to lower time in prison, where the maximum period of incarceration could be up to 15 years for the museum theft and the accompanying charge of aggravated arson in the underground car park.