Aug 21, 2009
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Two men in court over British jewellery heist

Aug 21, 2009

LONDON, Aug 21, 2009 (AFP) - Two men appeared in court Friday 21 August charged in connection with what is thought to be Britain's biggest jewellery heist, worth 40 million pounds (47 million euros, 65 million dollars).

Photo: AFP/File/Leon Neal

Solomun Beyene, 24, and Craig Calderwood, 26, appeared at Wimbledon Magistrates' Court in south London charged with "conspiring with others" to rob the exclusive Graff store in the capital's smart Mayfair district on August 6.

They are also both charged with possessing handguns during the robbery. There was no application for bail and they were remanded in custody until a preliminary hearing on September 1.

A record reward of up to one million pounds has been offered to track those behind the robbery, which took place in broad daylight and saw 43 rings, bracelets, necklaces and watches worth 40 million pounds stolen.

Two smartly-dressed men arrived in a black taxi, walked into the store and threatened staff with handguns. As they left with the jewellery they took a female staff member with them but abandoned her outside as they drove off.

Beyene's lawyer, Antonie Xavier, told reporters after the court hearing that the two men charged were alleged to have carried out the heist.

"It is totally denied. The CCTV (closed-circuit television) shows quite clearly he (Beyene) could not be the person. He has always denied that he was ever near there. This is a shot in the dark," Xavier said.

Graff, which is known for its diamonds and has a celebrity clientele, was also targeted in 2003 in what until now was reportedly Britain's previous most expensive jewellery robbery with a heist worth 23 million pounds.

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