Fifteen on trial for stealing Moroccan king’s watches, jewellery

Alleged ringleader, who worked as cleaning woman at the palace, reportedly confessed to stealing 36 luxury watches.

Armistice Day commemoration
Forbes magazine in 2014 classified the 56-year-old king as one of the world's richest men [File: Mustafa Yalcin/Anadolu Agency]

Fifteen people have gone on trial in Morocco over the theft of dozens of luxury watches and other pieces of jewellery from one of King Mohammed VI’s royal palaces.

The 15 suspects, who appeared in a court in the capital Rabat on Friday, are believed to be the members of a gang that carried out the raid on the palace in Marrakesh last month, according to the AFP news agency.

The main suspect, a 46-year-old female employee at the palace, is reported to have been aided by the palace’s security staff and some Moroccan jewellers.

Reports say the alleged ringleader, who worked as a cleaning woman in the royal household, has confessed to the robberies.

The woman, who is alleged to have stolen 36 watches, had many of them melted down and sold on to gold merchants.

The 14 other suspects, all men, are gold traders or intermediaries, and have denied any involvement in the robberies.

King Mohammed VI is known to have a large collection of expensive timepieces and jewellery.

He has a taste for luxury cars, paintings and watches, and was shown in an Instagram post in September 2018 with a Patek Philippe diamond-encrusted watch in white gold with an estimated value of $1.2m.

The 56-year-old monarch was listed by Forbes magazine in 2014 as one of the world’s richest men with wealth estimated at more than $2.5bn.

Source: AFP