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Police swoop in €35m gems heist

Police in Belgium, France and Switzerland claimed to have tracked down the gang behind a spectacular €35m diamond heist yesterday, arresting 31 people and seizing large amounts of cash, three months after armed robbers seized jewels from a Swiss plane at Brussels airport.

Belgian state prosecutors said a Frenchman, believed to be one of the robbers, had been apprehended in France on Tuesday, while a further six people were held in Switzerland.

In Belgium, 24 suspects were rounded up in a police operation yesterday.

Brussels prosecutor's office spokesman Jean-Marc Meilleur told a news conference: "In Switzerland we have found diamonds that we can already say came from the heist, and in Belgium large amounts of money have been found."

Ten of the 24 held in Belgium were known criminals.

The robbery on February 18 has been described as one of the most spectacular in recent years.

Shortly before 8pm, eight men dressed in police uniforms and toting machine guns drove through a hole cut into the security fence at Brussels airport.

The robbers threatened the security guards and stole 120 parcels of diamonds from the Helvetic Airways plane.

They then loaded the gems into their vehicles before fleeing. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent