January 19, 2019
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4 men go on trial in Germany over theft of giant gold coin from Berlin museum

Berlin, Jan 10 (efe-epa).- Four men accused of orchestrating an audacious heist of the world's biggest gold coin worth an estimated 3.75 million euros ($4.32 million) went on trial Thursday at a Berlin regional court, as documented by an epa-efe photojournalist.

The men stand accused of stealing a Canadian gold coin featuring a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on one side and a maple leaf on the other, weighing about 100 kilograms (220 pounds), from Berlin's Bodemuseum on March 27, 2017.

"Berlin’s prosecutor’s office has pressed charges in the state youth court relating to the joint theft of the 'Maple Leaf' gold coin from the city’s Bodemuseum in what was an especially difficult case," the office said in a statement in October.

The prosecution alleged that Wissam R. (21), Ahmed R. (20) and Wayci R. (23) entered the museum on the night of Mar. 17, 2017 through a window. Once inside, they extracted the coin and transported it with the aid of a skateboard and a wheelbarrow to a getaway vehicle.

Prosecutors added that, in accordance with the overall plan, the 20-year-old co-defendant Dennis W., who worked as a security guard at the Bodemuseum, had previously scouted the location to facilitate the robbery.

The huge disc, dubbed Big Maple Leaf, was never recovered during investigations and, according to prosecutors, the four suspects later split up the gold between them and sold off the pieces.

The coin, minted in 2007 within a very limited series, was made of 99.999 percent pure gold.

It was included in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest gold coin in 2008.

While the gold's material value at the time of the theft was around $4 million, the coin's face value was set at only around $1 million. It was produced by the Royal Canadian Mint.

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