‘I was just in wrong placeat wrong time’
Suspect in Wafi jewellery heist tells judge he was out shopping with friends
A man accused of stealing almost Dhs15 million in jewellery during the dramatic raid on Dubai’s Wafi Mall in 2007 has claimed he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Borko Ilincic appeared at Dubai Court of First Instance yesterday, following years on the run that was ended by extradition from Spain to Dubai last year.
The 35-year-old Serbian - described as a “key member” of the infamous Pink Panthers crime organisation - told police he was “shopping with friends” when two Audi A8 cars sped through the mall during the heist.
But prosecutors believe he was among the eight masked suspects behind the raid on House of Graff on April 15, 2007.
Ilincic appeared in court yesterday wearing a white prison uniform. He only spoke to confirm his name and to plead not guilty to armed robbery and forging a passport.
A Dubai Police officer who questioned Ilincic after his arrest testified: “He claimed that he was in Wafi shopping with friends when the incident happened.
“He confessed that he has a criminal record but he finished his jail term and came to Dubai as a tourist.”
The officer said Ilincic told him that he knew of the Pink Panthers’ record of heists, but he was not a gang member.
Judge Fahad Al Shamsi adjourned the case to allow Ilincic to appoint a lawyer.
Ilincic was among eight people implicated in the robbery. The heist lasted less than a minute. They set fire to one Audi a kilometre away before flying out of Dubai using fake passports. Two of the gang are now detained in the UAE and two in Liechtenstein. One was acquitted by a Dubai court and another has served his jail term in Dubai. Two Serbians, Bojana Mitic, 34, Malden Lazarevic, 38, remain at large. The Pink Panthers gang, which originated in the Balkans and is said to be made up of mostly former military personnel, has been linked to thefts across Europe worth tens of millions of euros. If convicted, Ilincic faces up to five years in jail for forgery. A judge has the discretion to hand down a life sentence for armed robbery.
He claimed that he was in Wafi Mall shopping – Dubai Police Officer
HEIST: The gang’s cars were caught on Wafi’s CCTV during the raid on House of Graff