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article imageAlleged mastermind of Kardashian heist charged in Paris

By Nathalie ALONSO and Gina DOGGETT (AFP)     Jan 13, 2017 in Crime

A French judge on Friday charged the alleged mastermind of the spectacular Paris heist, in which five masked men robbed US reality TV television star Kim Kardashian of jewellery worth millions, prosecutors said.

The 60-year-old man was among seven suspects charged on Friday over the October 3 robbery during which the celebrity was bound and gagged at gunpoint, then locked in a bathroom at the luxury residence where she was staying during Paris Fashion Week.

A total of 10 people have now been charged, including five accused of playing a direct role in robbing the 36-year-old Kardashian of jewellery worth some nine million euros ($9.5 million).

The ringleader's DNA was found at the scene, on the materials used to tie up Kardashian, leading police to the other suspects, sources close to the probe said earlier.

A source close to the probe said some of the suspects have confessed to their involvement, but would not say which ones.

Earlier this week French police arrested a 72-year-old man  suspected of being among those who did t...
Earlier this week French police arrested a 72-year-old man suspected of being among those who did take part in the robbery of Kim Kardashian at a villa in the village of Plascassier near Grasse

Another described the five alleged assailants, who range in age from 54 to 72, as "old-school gangsters".

Wearing police uniforms, gunmen first overpowered a night watchman at the residence in the chic Madeleine area of the French capital where the US celebrity was staying.

Two of them then burst into the star's apartment, gagged and bound her and locked her in a bathroom before helping themselves to gems including a 20-carat Lorraine Schwartz diamond ring worth some four million euros.

It was the biggest jewellery theft from an individual that France has seen in more than 20 years.

The oldest of the suspected burglars is 72-year-old Pierre "Pierrot" B., a convicted cocaine dealer who was arrested in a villa in the south of France on Monday.

Another, aged 61 and nicknamed "Blue Eyes", was sentenced in 2003 to eight and half years in jail for international cocaine trafficking after being busted with two tonnes of the drug at a Paris airport.

The ringleader's companion, named as Christiane G., and his 27-year-old son were charged with abetting the crime, with the son suspected of driving the thieves to the scene.

- Trail led to Antwerp -

Police stand guard at the entrance of the luxury residence where US reality television star Kim Kard...
Police stand guard at the entrance of the luxury residence where US reality television star Kim Kardashian was robbed at gunpoint by assailants disguised as police, in Paris, in October 2016
Thomas Samson, AFP/File

Marceau B., a 64-year-old Roma, was charged with helping to pass off some of the stolen jewellery.

He has a long criminal record dating back to 1998, with convictions for robbery and carrying counterfeit cash. Six months after leaving jail in late 2011, he was charged with making counterfeit money but was acquitted last year.

Investigators believe they spotted Marceau B. in Antwerp, Belgium, the hub of the global diamond trade.

Investigators fear some of Kardashian's jewels have already been sold, as raids against suspects have turned up 200,000 euros in cash.

The diamond ring, much photographed and easily recognisable, would be especially difficult to pass off, experts say.

Such gems are often recut into smaller stones, and police say Kardashian's ring could lose three-quarters of its value after being reworked.

Seven suspects have been released from custody including a chauffeur who was used by Kardashian during her stay.

His 27-year-old brother, Gary M., was charged Friday on suspicion of tipping off the thieves that Kardashian's bodyguard was absent on the night of the robbery and giving them details about the residence.

The bodyguard, who was providing security for her sister Kourtney at a Paris nightclub at the time, no longer works for the family.

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