Paris police hunt for jewels, thieves after Ritz Hotel robbery

Above, a valet waits outside the Ritz Hotel in Paris. Police have recovered some jewels stolen from the Ritz Hotel in a multimillion-euro robbery attempt, but are still searching Thursday for two thieves and the rest of the missing luxury merchandise. (AP)
Updated 11 January 2018
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Paris police hunt for jewels, thieves after Ritz Hotel robbery

PARIS: Paris police have recovered some jewels stolen from the Ritz Hotel in a dramatic heist, but are still searching Thursday for two thieves and the rest of the missing luxury merchandise.
The robbery on Wednesday evening raised questions about security in one of the world’s most prestigious neighborhoods, the Place Vendome, whose well-guarded buildings include the Justice Ministry, high-end boutiques and the 19th century Ritz.
Workers cleaned up shattered glass Thursday morning and started to repair damage from the robbery. Otherwise business appeared to be returning to normal at the Ritz, with no significant increase in security.
Three suspects entered the hotel through an unmarked side door, smashed display cases and threw bags of goods out a window to at least two accomplices outside, according to a police official.
The three inside were then blocked when they tried to flee through another door, and soon arrested, the official said.
The accomplices outside fled, one on a motorcycle and another in a car. The motorcyclist dropped a bag with jewels and hatchets when his motorcycle hit a pedestrian during his escape, the official said. The pedestrian was lightly injured, said the official, who was not authorized to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation.
Other jewels were found scattered amid the debris of the shattered display cases during overnight cleanup efforts, the official told The Associated Press.
The overall value of the jewels on display was about €4.5 million, and authorities were working Thursday with the jewelers to determine how many items are still missing and their value, the official said.
Another police official said some of the thieves apparently had guns. Two people inside the hotel hid from the thieves and alerted police, the official said.
Patrons at the hotel’s renowned Hemingway Bar described panic as the thieves entered the hushed environment of the Ritz, where rooms start at €1,000 a night.
Several high-end Paris jewelry stores have been targets of dramatic robberies in recent years, including Cartier, Harry Winston and Chopard. Kim Kardashian West said she lost millions of dollars’ worth of jewelry when she was robbed at gunpoint in a Paris apartment in October 2016.
The Ritz was an especially luxurious target. The hotel has housed such famous names as Ernest Hemingway and Coco Chanel. It was the last place Princess Diana stayed before her fatal car crash in a Paris tunnel, and hosts elite guests from around the world who prize the refined neighborhood.


China sacks regional officials as vaccine scandal mounts

Updated 5 min 32 sec ago
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China sacks regional officials as vaccine scandal mounts

  • The Chinese government has been struggling to shore up public confidence in the pharmaceutical sector
  • China is regularly hit by scandals involving sub-par or toxic food, drugs and other products

BEIJING: China’s Communist Party has sacked a dozen provincial and local officials and vowed to punish a pharmaceutical firm over a vaccine scandal that inflamed public fears over the safety of domestically produced drugs.
The government has been struggling to shore up public confidence in the pharmaceutical sector following the revelation last month that a major Chinese manufacturer of rabies vaccines was found to have fabricated records and was ordered to cease production.
The government has said the suspect rabies vaccines did not enter the market but the case provoked unusually strong outrage online from consumers fed up with recurring product-safety scandals, particularly in the drug sector.
The CEO of the company in question, Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology in the northeast province of Jilin, has been arrested along with 14 other people in connection with the scandal.
The first political casualties fell on Thursday as a dozen officials were removed from office, including Jilin’s deputy governor Jin Yuhui, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
Jin was in charge of monitoring the safety of food and pharmaceuticals.
The decision to sack him was made at a meeting of the ruling Communist Party’s elite seven-member standing committee, led by President Xi Jinping.
“Those who break the law and jeopardize public safety, notably in the matter of vaccines and medicines, should be severely punished,” Xinhua reported, citing the meeting’s conclusions.
The standing committee also asked for the resignations of three other officials: The vice chairman of a provincial committee, the mayor of Jilin’s capital, Changchun, and the deputy head of the State Administration for Market Regulation.
Another eight provincial and city officials were removed from office by the regional leadership.
The former deputy chief of the now defunct China Food and Drug Administration will be investigated by the party’s anti-graft agency, Xinhua said.
Another 35 non-centrally administered officials “will be held accountable,” the agency said without elaborating.
China is regularly hit by scandals involving sub-par or toxic food, drugs and other products, despite repeated promises by the government to address the problem.
Since the latest case came to light, the authorities have announced a nationwide inspection of laboratories producing vaccines, but many Chinese parents say they no longer have confidence in the medicines administered to their children.
China’s cabinet, the State Council, held a meeting Thursday on the investigation into the latest case.
The company will face a fine and all of its “illegal profits” will be confiscated, the officials Xinhua news agency reported Friday.
“In its reckless pursuit of profits, the company committed unlawful acts of grave nature,” Xinhua said in its report on the meeting.
The case exposed supervision failures by local governments and regulatory agencies, it said.
“We must conduct thorough safety checks on vaccine production... and close all loopholes in the vaccine regulatory mechanism,” Premier Li Keqiang said at a meeting of China’s State Council, according to Xinhua.
“Efforts should be made to build public confidence in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines made in China,” Li said.