Frenchman gets five years for diamond robbery from Swiss plane
A Belgian court sentenced French national Marc Bertoldi to five years in prison on Thursday for his role in a major diamond heist on a Helvetic Airways plane in Brussels in 2013.
Bertoldi was found guilty of playing a decisive role in the armed robbery of €37.9 million (CHF46 million) worth of diamonds, gold bullion and precious stones from a Swiss Helvetic Airways plane making a stopover in Brussels on route between Zurich and New York.
While Bertoldi has said he was not involved in the armed robbery, he did not deny concealing the stolen jewellery, of which €5 million worth was found a few months later in his home in Geneva.
The Belgian court stopped short of stating that Bertoldi was directly involved in the robbery. According to the judges, there is no evidence to suggest that he was one of the perpetrators or even the mastermind, as the prosecution argued. However, by agreeing to sell the stolen goods he undoubtedly took part in the crime, it said.
“Through his behaviour, he allowed the acts to be committed,” the court’s statement read. Bertoldi was “voluntarily and knowingly one of the key elements” in acts that were “meticulously prepared” and required insider information.
Bertoldi was also convicted of money laundering and involvement in criminal conspiracy, though he was acquitted of charges related to the acts to prepare for the robbery, including vehicle theft.
In addition to five years in prison and a fine of €6,000, the court ordered the confiscation of his wife’s Porsche Cayenne and €45,000.
In reaction to the verdict, Bertoldi’s lawyer Dimitri de Béco told the Agence France Press news agency, “it’s clear that he was not the brain behind the heist… that gives us some satisfaction.”
The 18 other suspects identified by the Belgian courts are due to be tried in late 2019 or early 2020, after an initial acquittal in 2018, which the prosecution appealed.