• Kyodo News


In a rare case of police cooperation with Spain, Madrid will likely agree to transfer custody of a Montenegrin member of the “Pink Panther” robbers believed involved in a Ginza jewelry shop heist in 2007, government sources said Wednesday.

Tokyo police had put Rifat Hadziahmetovic, 42, on Interpol’s wanted list for allegedly stealing jewels, including a ¥200 million diamond tiara, from Exelco Diamond’s main Tokyo store in the Ginza shopping district 2007. Spain has been holding him for alleged involvement in a separate robbery, the Metropolitan Police Department said.

According to the Tokyo police, Hadziahmetovic was arrested in Cyprus in March 2009 for holding a forged Bulgarian passport. Spanish police later assumed custody because he was allegedly involved in a robbery in Spain.

The Tokyo police asked Cyprus and Spain to hand him over to Japan.

Hadziahmetovic allegedly took the tiara and a necklace worth ¥84 million from the Exelco Diamond store after spraying a clerk with tear gas in June 2007.

Another suspect, Radovan Jelusic, also a Montenegrin national, was arrested in Italy in May and was also wanted by Interpol. In 2009, he was arrested in Montenegro on charges related to obstructing justice but was released.

Since 1999, the Pink Panthers pulled off more than 90 robberies in Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

In Japan, the gang is also believed responsible for robbing another Ginza jewelry shop of ¥3.5 billion worth of gems in 2004.

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