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Poker News | World Poker News

Four EPT Berlin Thieves Sentenced to Jail

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A resolution to the situation only took several months. The brazen robbery that shocked the poker industry and spurred rumors of an inside job and international mob connections reached a conclusion in late June as a German court tried and sentenced the primary suspects in the case of the March 6th EPT Berlin armed robbery.

The European Poker Tour stop in Berlin was the inaugural visit to the city, and the turnout at the Grand Hyatt ballroom in the downtown area of Berlin was stellar though not surprising with the recent significant increases in poker’s popularity in Germany. But after the Main Event got underway and side events were occupying other tables in the ballroom area, robbers stormed the lobby of the hotel where cash was being held by unarmed security guards. Though there were threats of violence by the men holding weapons like a machete and a handgun, no one was seriously injured as the goal of the thieves seemed to be solely the hundreds of thousands of Euros. And they took the money, headed to a getaway car, and disappeared into the daylight hours of Berlin.

Within weeks, German police had its first suspect in custody, a 21-year old unnamed suspect who named his fellow robbers, allowing the authorities to issue warrants in the case. Several other men in their late teens and early twenties were arrested soon after, including Ahmad el-Awayti, Mustafa Ucarkus, and Jihad Chetwie. German media speculated that an Arab crime family could have inspired or ordered the operation, though no information has since been released about that allegation.

The four suspects in custody for the robbery were brought to a quick trial, and all of the defendants were sentenced to jail time - 3 years and 9 months for one 21-year old, and 3.5 years each for the other three men, who ranged in age from 19 to 20. The men actually faced the possibility of sentences ranging from 15 to 20 years, but the judge ruled for lighter sentences due to their age.

There are two more players in the robbery, however, who are suspected of masterminding the operation and will go on trial later in 2010.

The one mystery that remains unsolved is the location of the money. The exact amount of money stolen from the casino was €242,000, which equates to approximately $359,000, but the majority of the money has never been found, and the defendants refused to reveal that information during the trial. The getaway car, a black Mercedes-Benz, was recovered in the past months, along with a few thousand dollars, but the largest portion of the money remains hidden.

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