The trial over the theft of the giant gold coin has started in Berlin. Four men have gone on trial after they were accused of being involved in the theft of the Big Maple Leaf coin from the Bode Museum in March 2017.
The coin, which weighed over 200 pounds, was made of 24-carat gold and was worth over $4 million. Three of the suspects are said to be from a Lebanese Berlin family accused of having ties with organized crime.
On March 27, 2017, the enormous gold coin disappeared from the Bode Museum. The coin, which had been loaned to the museum and had been there for the last seven years, was stolen during the early hours by a group of thieves, according to authorities. Police believe the thieves entered the museum through a window.
A police spokesman said at the time that the coin was secured by bulletproof glass. Authorities said that the thieves used a ladder, a wheelbarrow and a getaway car. The coin has not been recovered but authorities believe that the group decided to melt or cut it into pieces. They think the group may have sold the pieces.
The gold coin is a piece created by the Royal Canadian Mint. The coin is actually a Guinness World Record holder for its purity. The thieves took just the coin when they broke into the museum.
Prosecutors allege that the suspects entered the museum by using a railway track located nearby. They then used a ladder to climb through a third floor window. The thieves entered and took the coin since there was no alarm.
They carried out the heavy coin using a wheelbarrow and a skateboard. Authorities believe they took the coin to a getaway car that was close by. The suspects are all in their early 20s.
Reports say the fourth suspect is not part of the family. He was said to be a security guard at the museum when it all happened. He is accused of having facilitated the theft by giving the group information on the location and security.
A defence lawyer told the court that authorities had no evidence to show that the men were behind the theft of the coin. The defendants did not say a word during the trial and covered their faces when pictures were taken.
The coin was stolen in March 2017 and German authorities made their first arrests in July of that year. Authorities said at the time that they were conducting searches and arrest warrants over the theft. A spokesperson revealed that the arrested are part of a group known for several crimes, including drug smuggling.
The suspects were tracked by authorities with DNA evidence. Last year, police seized 77 houses, apartments and other properties owned by the family. Police suspect that some of the properties were purchased with the money that they got from the coin.
The coin is one of five made by the Royal Canadian Mint. The museum had over 500,000 objects at the time but the thieves only stole the coin, which was in a cabinet secured with bulletproof glass.