France arrests Pink Panther suspect

AFP-JIJI

Police have stormed a villa in southeastern France and arrested a member of the notorious Pink Panther gang of jewel thieves who had escaped from a Swiss prison earlier this year, officials said Wednesday.

During the dawn sweep Monday, nearly 20 well-armed police detained Zoran Tomovic, 47, as he tried to flee through a window in the home of an acquaintance in the Provence town of Bedarrides, the officials said. The special French search brigade was working on a tip from Swiss authorities.

Tomovic is wanted for armed robbery, weapons and drug-trafficking charges in Switzerland, where he was one of five inmates who escaped May 14 from a detention facility in Lausanne, officials said. He is also being sought by authorities in Macedonia, where he was convicted in absentia to 20 years in prison in 1998 over the alleged murder of his former girlfriend, officials said.