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€37m airport diamond heist trial begins, without key suspect

09:00 01/02/2018

The trial has begun in Brussels into a €37 million diamond heist at Zaventem Airport in 2013 - but the main suspect is not present.

Eight men with guns, wearing police uniforms, drove on to the tarmac at Zaventem airport on 18 February 2013 and held up a Swiss flight and a Brink's armoured money transit van, making off with 121 parcels of diamonds that were being due to be transported to Zurich.

After an investigation involving authorities in Belgium, France, Switzerland and Morocco, suspect Marc Bertoldi was arrested in eastern France three months later. But he is now serving an eight-year jail sentence in France for kidnapping and cannot be extradited to Belgium for the diamond trial.

His lawyer, Dimitri De Béco, had argued that the criminal case cannot go ahead without the defendant present. He wants his client to be tried at a later date.

In total 16 men and three women are accused of involvement - either in committing the robbery, being an accomplice or disposing of stolen goods. The trial continues.