PARIS — A court here on Friday night handed down sentences for the eight men on trial in connection with two spectacular heists at the Harry Winston jewelry store in the French capital in 2007 and 2008.
The prison terms range from nine months to 15 years, confirmed a spokesman from Swatch Group, which is Harry Winston’s owner. He had no further comment on the case.
In the 2008 break-in, four armed bandits — three of them wearing wigs and dresses — seized jewelry worth an estimated 85 million euros, or $95.2 million at current exchange, from the Harry Winston store on Avenue Montaigne off the Champs-Elysées.
In June 2009, French police arrested 32 people in connection with the theft. Only a small portion of the stolen jewels was recovered, including a 31-carat diamond hidden in a drainpipe outside of the home of Daoudi Yahiaoui, who masterminded the heists and received the most stringent jail sentence.
In the 2008 attack, the four bandits gained entrance to the boutique with Winston’s security guard as an accomplice. They brandished handguns, corralled the staff into a corner and demanded all the store’s merchandise. In October 2007, the same thieves made off with more than $25 million in Winston baubles.
There has been a resurgence of jewelry robberies in France. Last November, two thieves robbed a Cartier store near the Champs-Elysées, exchanging shots with police and briefly holding a man hostage before surrendering. The loot was recovered.
The Harry Winston trial lasted almost four weeks.