January 25 started unlike any other Sunday for Germany’s famous luxury department store Kaufhaus Des Westens (KaDeWe). Security cameras captured three masked men breaking into Europe’s largest most luxurious department store before London’s Harrod’s, smashing the cabinets and display cases and getting away with more than $6.8 million worth of jewelry and watches.
Although the break in occurred over the weekend, the crime was not discovered until early Monday morning. This level of high-profile jewelry theft was new to Germany and has dominated the headlines for weeks. KaDeWe spokeswoman, Petra Fladenhofer said “There is no comparable crime in the store’s history.” Authorities investigating the heist caught a lucky break when traces of DNA were discovered on a glove left at the crime scene. The police then learned that they had found a match to the DNA.
There was one major problem though: the DNA lead to not one but two suspects. Hassan and Abbas O. are identical twin brothers and because of their indistinguishable DNA, police couldn’t link either one of them individually to the crime. After five weeks of fruitlessly trying to gather enough evidence to hold them, German authorities had no choice but to set both men free. German law states that any criminal must be proven guilty individually and police could not exclusively link either one of the brothers to the crime. The twins’ DNA is too similar to be differentiated using methods that are acceptable in German courts. Even though, both men have criminal records and both men may have committed the KaDeWe heist together, they are free men.
The twins have not commented on their innocence or guilt; but Hassan’s attorney, Axel Weimann told Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper that doesn’t mean they committed the crime. “Those who remain silent are not necessarily covering up their guilt, but rather simply making use of their constitutional rights,” said Weimann. Weimann also said that the glove could have been planted at the crime scene by someone who wanted to frame the brothers. The brothers did manage to send a message via a relative to Berliner Morgenpost paper saying they are “proud of the German constitutional state and gave it their thanks.”
German police still have no trace of the third suspect or where the multimillion dollars worth of jewelry is stashed.