Suspects held after police raids in Paris, Normandy and French Riviera over gunpoint robbery of reality TV star
French police have arrested 16 suspects in connection with the robbery of the US reality TV star Kim Kardashian West in Paris in October.
The suspects, a number of them reportedly well known to detectives for armed robbery, were picked up in coordinated early morning raids, most of them in the Paris region, but also in Normandy and the French Riviera.
Police identified two of the suspects from fingerprints left at the luxury apartment from where Kardashian West had €9m (£7.8m) in jewels and valuables snatched during Paris fashion week, and immediately put them and their associates under surveillance. The youngest of those arrested is 22 and the oldest 72. Three of the 16 detainees are women, according to police.
Detectives can hold the suspects for questioning for up to 96 hours.
Kardashian West, 36, had a gun pointed at her and was tied up and left in the bath after masked men with police badges on their jackets burst into her room at a hotel in Paris’ exclusive 8th arrondissement on the night of 2-3 October.
The star was alone because her German bodyguard, Pascal Duvier, was out at a club with her sisters.
Video surveillance cameras showed five men arriving at the building where Kardashian West was staying at about 2.30am. After threatening the night porter with a knife, they reportedly forced him to show them to the star’s flat.
Thirty-six minutes later, the men were seen on CCTV leaving calmly in three groups. Two walked away while three left on bicycles, one of them with a plastic bag believed to contain Kardashian West’s jewellery and mobile phones hanging from the handlebars. The following day, a local resident discovered a platinum cross necklace decorated with diamonds and worth an estimated €30,000 that the robbers had dropped.
Police discovered DNA traces on the plastic handcuffs used to bind Kardashian West and on the dropped jewellery that enabled them to identify suspects who officials said were already listed on the national crime database.
Kardashian West reportedly told police that after her attackers left she managed to free her hands and call her bodyguard. Detectives said it was the biggest theft of jewels from an individual in France in 20 years.
Kardashian West, who had a diamond ring worth €4m – a gift from her husband, the rapper Kanye West – stolen in the robbery, flew back to the US the following day after a brief police interview. An investigating judge is now expected to fly to the US to interview her again.
A police source told Agence France-Presse on Monday that money and documents had been found in the raids. French police have also been in contact with colleagues in Belgium, where they believe the robbers tried to dispose of the stolen jewels in the world-famous jewellery quarter in Anvers.
A trailer for the new series of Keeping up with the Kardashians shows Kardashian West in tears about the robbery and saying she thought her attackers would shoot her in the back. “There was no way out,” she tells family members.
France has experienced some spectacular jewellery heists in recent years. In the biggest, items worth €103m were stolen from the Carlton hotel in Cannes in July 2013.
A month after the Kardashian West robbery, two Qatari women were held up on a motorway outside Paris and robbed of valuables worth more than €5m.
The women, in their 60s, had just left Le Bourget airport, north-east of the capital, when two masked men held up their chauffeur-driven Bentley and sprayed them with teargas, a police source said.
Source: The Guardian