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Germany

Berlin poker heist trial begins

Four suspects linked to a spectacular daytime poker game robbery last March at a luxury Berlin hotel have gone on trial and must answer to charges of armed robbery and aggravated assault.

Card player holding his hand about to play the ace of spades from his sleeve

The poker game robbers didn't have an ace in the hole

The trial of the four 19-to-21-year-old men opened at a Berlin regional court on Monday morning with the prosecution demanding the maximum 10-year sentence for armed robbery and aggravated assault allowed under Germany's juvenile offenders law.

Two of the defendants have pleaded guilty and confessed to their roles in the heist.

The robbery took place on March 6 in broad daylight at Berlin's Grand Hyatt hotel on Potsdamer Platz where the European Poker Tournament had begun a few days earlier.

Some 1,000 players were vying for the tournament's one-million-euro purse, among them, former German tennis star Boris Becker.

Four masked men, of Turkish and Arab origin, burst into the hotel, threatening security personnel and hotel employees with machetes and handguns. The scenes were captured on the hotel's surveillance cameras.

A security guard grabbed a bag of cash carried by one of the assailants, which contained half a million euros in prize money, preventing an even bigger heist.

The robbers ultimately got away with 242, 000 euros ($296,000), but were apprehended a few days later after leaving behind plenty of evidence for the police. However, only 4,000 euros from the heist have been recovered so far.

Two other men, believed to have been the masterminds of the plot, are under investigation and were formally charged last Friday. They face separate trials at a later date.

Author: Gregg Benzow (dpa/apn)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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