‘I was just in wrong placeat wrong time’

Sus­pect in Wafi jew­ellery heist tells judge he was out shop­ping with friends

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Ali Al Shouk @alial­shouk

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

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