Swiss police have arrested another suspected member of the infamous ‘Pink Panther’ gang of international jewel thieves who made a dramatic break from a Swiss prison in July. His fellow inmate had been caught a day earlier in Valais.
Police confirmed to swissinfo.ch that they detained the 34-year-old Bosnian – an alleged ‘Pink Panther’ – along with two other individuals, at a chalet at the mountain village of Les Paccots in southwest Switzerland on Thursday night. The identity of the other two others who are being questioned by police is not known at present.
The Bosnian, who was serving seven years for robbing a jewellery store, escaped from Bochuz Prison in Orbe with a fellow inmate on July 25 after two accomplices rammed a gate and overpowered guards with bursts from their AK-47s.
His fellow inmate, a 52-year-old Swiss who also escaped, was arrested on August 28 near Sierre.
The incident was the second dramatic break-out in canton Vaud in the space of three months. In May five men, including two suspected ‘Pink Panthers’, escaped from Bois-Mermet prison in Lausanne by scaling the prison wall assisted by three accomplices.
Two of the five were arrested the next day at nearby Cheseaux-sur-Lausanne. Two others are still on the run, including a 45-year-old Serb who is also a suspected ‘Pink Panther’.
The other ‘Pink Panther’, a 47-year-old with dual French and Macedonian citizenship, was recently captured by French police in the city of Montpellier.
But on August 28 a French court turned down a Swiss extradition request arguing that France does not extradite its own nationals.
The ‘Pink Panther’ gang, named after the 1964 movie of the same name starring Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau, was formed after the conflict in former Yugoslavia. The gang is believed to contain some 220 members who have carried out heists in jewellery stores in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and the United States.
Interpol estimates that they have snatched valuables worth nearly $500 million (CHF460 million) since 1999.