Police arrest 31 in Brussels airport diamond raid operation


Brussels Airport from the air
Pic: Jakkrit Prasertwit/Wikimedia

Police have arrested 31 people across three countries in connection with the £32 million diamond heist at Brussels Airport in February.

Co-ordinated operations involving more than 300 officers ended with 24 people arrested in Belgium. This came a day after six men were captured in Switzerland and one in France.

Belgian police claim a number of those arrested in the country have known links to the criminal underworld. The operation seized some of the diamonds in Switzerland, along with large sums of money and luxury cars.

The police have yet to clarify the identities of the men arrested but they believe the suspect detained in France was a member of the eight-man gang which carried out the armed raid.

As previously reported, on February 18 eight armed robbers dressed in police uniforms and carrying weapons cut through security fencing and drove across the airport in two vehicles, stopping next to a Helvetica Airways plane bound for Zurich, Switzerland.

The gang intercepted a Brinks armoured CVIT van as it was transferring diamonds to the plane and netted uncut diamonds with an estimated £32 million. The heist took 15 minutes in total and the operation inside the airport was over in less than three minutes without a shot being fired.

Jean-Marc Meilleur of the Brussels prosecutor’s office told the Daily Telegraph: “We believe the man arrested in France is one of the authors of the robbery

“It’s the only person that we can say at this stage they could have participated in the events on the tarmac.

“Among those arrested in Belgium, at least 10 are known to the court, including for armed attacks. They are part of the Brussels criminal underworld.”

He added: “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 on-going.”

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