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‘Pink Panther’ gang member held in France

French police have arrested a suspected member of the infamous Pink Panther gang of international jewel thieves who had been on the run since escaping from a Swiss prison in May.

'Pink Panther' gang member held in France
Frnech police arrest member of "Pink Panther" gang. Photo: Inventor Chris/Flickr

A police source said Wednesday that the 47-year-old, born in Montenegro but with French and Macedonian citizenships, was detained at his home in the southern Montpellier region on Monday.

The source said the suspect failed to escape out a window during his arrest.

A former member of the French Foreign Legion, the suspect was wanted in several countries, including under two international arrest warrants issued by Switzerland, where he had been in prison for armed robbery.

On May 14, he had escaped with four other prisoners from the Bois-Mermet prison, near Lausanne, using weapons and tools passed to them from accomplices on the outside.

Two of the escapees were detained the next day and two remain at large, including a 45-year-old Serb also believed to be a member of the Pink Panthers.

The Pink Panthers emerged from the conflict in the former Yugoslavia to become the most successful jewel thieves in the world.

According to Interpol, they have since 1999 snatched jewels with a value in excess of 330 million euros ($440 million) in heists that are often executed with breathtaking speed and precision.

They gained their nickname with a raid on a London branch of Graff Diamonds in 2003, in which two of them posed as wealthy would-be customers, persuading staff to open doors for them before helping themselves to diamonds worth millions.

Although one of the robbers was overpowered at the scene and another later arrested, only a fraction of the diamonds were recovered, one of them hidden in a pot of face cream.

That was reminiscent of a scene from the 1975 film "The Return of the Pink Panther" and resulted in a nickname that the gang members themselves adopted, wearing pink shirts for a subsequent raid in Zurich.

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MONTPELLIER

British student killed crossing road in France

A British university student was killed in the southern city of Montpellier over the weekend, after attempting to cross a motorway with a group of friends on a night out.

British student killed crossing road in France
A British university student was killed in the southern city of Montpellier over the weekend, after attempting to cross a motorway. File photo: Corentin Bechade

A night out ended in tragedy for a group of friends in Montpellier over the weekend, when a British man died after being struck by a car while crossing a motorway in the southern city, according to French media.

The 22-year-old British student and six of his friends had been on their way to a nightclub in nearby Lattes in the early hours of Saturday morning, according to local daily La Depeche.

Believing they were heading towards the Route de Palavas, the group of friends had in fact stumbled upon the A9 motorway, but decided to venture across on foot, anyway.

Tragically, a motorist travelling in the direction of Nîmes collided with two of the group, killing one and injuring another at around 1.25 am, according to TF1 television.

“The collision happened in the central lane of the motorway,” a police source told La Depeche. “[The driver] couldn’t avoid them.”

The 29-year-old motorist has been taken into custody on suspicion of involuntary homicide and injury.

The identity of the British man has not yet revealed, and a representative from the British embassy was not available for comment at time of writing.

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