Nanterre (France) (AFP)
The alleged mastermind behind the group that robbed American reality TV star Kim Kardashian at gunpoint in Paris was released from a jail Thursday, where he was serving time for a separate case.
The gem heist in October 2016 saw five masked men walk away from Kardashian’s luxurious Paris apartment with $10.6 million (nine million euros) worth of jewels, including a diamond ring gifted by her rapper husband Kanya West.
The 60-something alleged ringleader behind the heist, Aomar Ait Khedache, has not yet been tried for the burglary, but was serving time for another robbery.
Dubbed “Omar the Elder”, Khedache was released from prison early for health reasons, the court in Nanterre and his lawyer said.
Khedache was sentenced to five years in jail in 2017 for a robbery two years prior in the chic Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine.
His lawyer Chloe Arnoux welcomed his release, saying it was the result of a long battle to get him out of jail.
She said her client was “actually very far from the fantasised image of great bandit that he is portrayed as” publicly.
His release would allow him to adequately prepare for the Kardashian robbery trial, which has not yet been scheduled.
“He will now be able to appear at his trial in a dignified condition, which the detention would not have allowed,” she said.
The dramatic Kardashian robbery, worthy of a Hollywood plotline, made headlines around the world.
The star, famous for her curves and expensive tastes, was robbed at gunpoint, gagged and locked in the bathroom before thieves did away with a trove of jewels.
In addition to the 18.88-carat ring they also took several pieces of gold and diamond jewelry, in what was the biggest heist of one individual in France in two decades.
Khedache was arrested after his DNA was found at the site.
He told investigators he had struggled to find a buyer for the ring, complaining it was “too recognisable” and that he had given it to an unidentified third party.
Eleven suspects have been charged in connection with the robbery.
The investigation into the burglary has finished, paving the way for trials for some or all of the suspects.
Kardashian was in Paris for Fashion Week and had been documenting her comings and goings around town, including showing off her flashy ring on Instagram.
But she fell silent after the dramatic heist and stopped posting on social media in real time.