Five Germans handed jail sentence for Green Vault jewel heist

DRESDEN, Germany (Reuters) - A German court on Tuesday sentenced five men to several years behind bars for their involvement in a jewel heist in 2019 at a museum in Dresden which houses one of Europe's greatest art collections.

The pieces stolen from the break-in at the Gruenes Gewoelbe (Green Vault) museum in Dresden contained more than 4,300 diamonds with an estimated value of more than 113 million euros.

They included a breast star of the Polish Order of the White Eagle and an ornate diamond head-dress. However, police have said most of the stolen jewels have been recovered.

Six German men, all in their 20s, had been charged with aggravated gang theft and serious arson.

Five members of the same family were handed sentences of between four years and four months and six years and two months. A sixth family member was acquitted.

Prosecutors said the men had sawn through part of a window grating in advance and re-attached it to get into the building as quickly as possible during the heist.

The stolen Dresden collection was assembled in the 18th century by Augustus the Strong, Elector of Saxony and later King of Poland, who commissioned ever more brilliant jewellery as part of his rivalry with France's King Louis XIV.

The treasures survived Allied bombing raids in World War Two, only to be carted off as war booty by the Soviet Union. They were returned to Dresden, the historic capital of the state of Saxony, in 1958.

(Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Madeline Chambers and Riham Alkousaa; Editing by Rachel More, William Maclean)